Old Joliet Prison

Old Joliet Prison is both beloved and despised by its community. For nearly 150 years, it provided steady local employment and inspired the name of Joliet’s minor league baseball team, the Slammers. But, as in Leavenworth, Kansas, and Attica, New York, the prison became synonymous with the city, and the moniker “Prison Town” irritated many residents. Many residents hoped that it was gone for good when the prison closed in 2002.

The former Joliet Prison

Even without inmates, the leprous cellblock is foreboding. However, Joliet is on Route 66, and Old Joliet Prison makes a memorable appearance in the 1980 film The Blues Brothers when “Joliet Jake” (John Belushi) is released from his cell, dramatically exits the main gate, and is driven away in the Bluesmobile car by his brother Elwood (Dan Akroyd). The prison was only on screen for five minutes but left an indelible impression on many Mother Road fans.

“We were receiving a flood of emails and phone calls. People were pleading to be let in “The prison sat abandoned for years, according to Greg Peerbolte, executive director of the Joliet Area Historical Museum. “One gentleman came all the way from Rome; he was a huge Blues Brothers fan. He was crying when we took him to the John Belushi cell. This guy from Rome, with thousands of years of history — Christianity, Roman emperors — is crying in Joliet Jake’s cell. So we knew we’d hit on something.”

  • The demolished prison chapel could eventually host themed weddings.
  • The demolished prison chapel could eventually host themed weddings.

The prison, according to Greg, has many infamous inmates, including John Wayne Gacy, Baby Face Nelson, and James Earl Ray, but the most requested cell is that of Joliet Jake, a fictional prisoner. But Lake Renwick Heron Rookery Nature Preserve is also a famous one and no less than a wonderful place. “That speaks to the interest,” he said. Oasis Hospice is located in Joliet, Il. Contact them for further assistance at 708-564-4838.