The Old Joliet Prison has drawn a total of 14,181 visitors for tours and events since opening to the public in August 2018, according to the Joliet Historical Museum.
The 19th-century prison, known officially as the former Joliet Correctional Center, also generated $407,654 in revenue, a report in The Herald-News stated.
The net revenue of $40,000 will go back to restoration efforts, which will take years.
More than 6,300 people have been to the prison for tours.
Through Aug. 31, 7,440 people visited the Old Joliet Prison this year for tours and other events, generating nearly $195,000 in revenue.
That’s compared with 2018, when the prison was only open for about three months at the end of the year, but attracted 6,741 people and generated $213,000. […]
The prison will attract more than 6,000 people for tours this year. Another 1,158 have booked spots on upcoming tours.
Old Joliet Prison also hosted the Great Joliet Prison Break-In, which drew 3,500 people in 2018 and 2,000 people this year.
The newspaper reported the Illinois Office for Tourism wants to use the facility in Joliet for a gala to mark the 40th anniversary of “The Blues Brothers” movie, part of which was set in the prison.
Greg Peerbolte, director of the museum, said he wants the prison to host four or five big events per year to bring in more revenue.
The prison needs all the money it can get. A report in May by an engineering firm stated the facility will need $10 million in repairs to stabilized six key structures in the complex.
Joliet Correctional Center’s distinctive limestone walls were built in 1858, and the state of Illinois closed it in 2004. The city signed a five-year lease with the state in December 2017 to use the prison.
The city seeks to eventually open a hotel, restaurants and gift shops in the prison grounds. The prison remains a popular photo-op for Route 66 travelers.
The prison has been used in many film and television productions, but it remains best-known for the opening scene of 1980’s “The Blues Brothers.”
The old Joliet Correctional Center shouldn’t be confused with Stateville Correctional Center, which sits in nearby Crest Hill, Illinois, along Illinois 53 (aka Route 66) and still is being used for its original purpose.
(Hat tip to Marla “Lulu” Bagdon; an image of the Joliet Correctional Center in Joliet, Illinois, by JymPolranges via Flickr)