The Maryland House of Correction, also known as “The Cut” or “The House” is one of the oldest prisons in the United States, having been in use for 138 years. A prison that was designed for 200 inmates when it was opened in 1879 eventually held up to 1050 men. It was finally closed in 2007 after several violent events, including the death of correctional officer David McGuinn.
The building has been mostly vacant since then, and is in the process of deconstruction. Inmates from nearby prisons have been salvaging materials such as toilets and other fixtures that can be used in other prisons, thereby learning trades and skills that can potentially provide employment opportunities when they are released.
What remains of the prison is still visually interesting, from the tiny cells, some still showing coats of decorative paint, to the narrow catwalks once patrolled by correctional officers, to the miles of razor wire covering much of the outside surfaces. Despite the depressing interior, the light coming through some of the windows is beautiful.
Other details are notable, such as the heavy iron doors and the harsh streetlight-type fixtures that cast an eerie green glow over the interior. It is hard to imagine hundreds of inmates having to live together in the large dormitory areas once filled with tightly packed bunk beds.
Outside on the large lawn area there is a lone peach tree. On the grassy area between buildings there remain the ruins of bleachers where inmates spent some of their recreation time. Near the bleachers, a huge tangle of razor wire takes up part of the recreation yard. It seems impossible that it could ever be untangled. Just in front of the wire, a broken mirror reflects some of the razor’s barbs.
The Maryland House of Correction is as stark a place as can be imagined but is still an important piece of Maryland history.