ISP adds tour dates to help fund federal report

ISP Warden Patty Wachtendorf was at the front of the line greeting tourists of the historic Iowa State Penitentiary on Sunday morning in Fort Madison. Wachtendorf and Rebecca Bowker, an executive officer with the prison, get ready to bring another group in a long line of tourists into the prison. Photo by Chuck Vandenberg/PCC.


FORT MADISON – Iowa State Penitentiary will be hosting additional tour dates of the Historic Iowa State Penitentiary site in October.

The previous tour held in May, drew over 3500 people to experience what it is like inside the famous stone walls. There will be two dates in October that the public can once again see inside the historic facility whose roots extend back to 1839.

The additional tour dates are being offered in an effort to raise money for a necessary report that will enable the Department of Corrections to eventually release the property to the private sector or nonprofit for further development. A Historic Structures Report (HSR) is prescribed by the National Park service and will formerly evaluate the site’s property condition and will provide recommendations as to the adaptive reuse. The HSR is expected to cost $150,000 to $200,000.

“We are hoping to work cooperatively with the non-profit, Historic Iowa State Penitentiary, to obtain the necessary funds for the study,” Bowker said Thursday.

She couldn’t comment on whether or not the the two tours are projected to make enough to fund the study or if other revenue sources were available, but had said in earlier reports that the state has indicated they do not have the money for the study.

Tours dates have been set for October 7th and 8th and will cost $15 per ticket for those 12 and over. Children under 12 will be asked to bring a non-perishable food item for the local food pantry.

Tickets are only available online at . There is limited ticketing offered for each designated time. There will be no refunds and the tour will occur rain or shine. Guests are asked to plan accordingly.

There will also be souvenirs available for purchase online as well as the day of the event.

All proceeds will be dedicated to paying for the HSR.

The public is asked to direct questions to or by calling 319-376-4842.

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