Eastern State Penitentiary's Restored Catholic Chaplain's Office Open to Public

1 Sep 2014
Eastern State Penitentiary, 2027 Fairmount Avenue, Philadelphia


A painting conservator removing residual wax on Peter Receiving the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Courtesy of Eastern State Penitentiary.

With support from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage in 2010, Eastern State Penitentiary has preserved the artworks in its Catholic chaplain's office—the site of 23 murals painted in 1955 by inmate Lester Smith, who converted to Catholicism in prison. The work included preservation of the building exterior as well as the addition of temperature and humidity controls, electrical upgrades, and conservation of the murals themselves. This project has allowed Eastern State to open the Catholic Chaplain's office to visitors for the first time, and contributes significantly to the interpretation of spiritual and religious life at the prison.

Tours of the Catholic Chaplain's Office will recommence on September 1, 2014, as part of Eastern State Penitentiary's Hands-On History tours program. These tours will run every hour. For more information, please visit Eastern State Penitentiary's website.