Welcome to the Texas Prison Museum

The Texas Prison Museum offers an intriguing glimpse into the lives of the state's imprisoned citizens. The museum features numerous exhibits detailing the history of the Texas prison system, featuring a look inside the operations behind the fences and walls.

Admission:

 

Adults - $7;

Seniors 60+/Active or Retired Military/First

Responders/TDCJ Employees/

SHSU Students - $5;

 

Ages 6/17 - $4;

 

5 years and under - No Charge.

Contact Information:

 

936-295-2155

491 Hwy 75 N

Huntsville, TX 77320

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Mission Statement

The Texas Prison Museum shall collect, preserve and showcase the history and the culture of the Texas prison system and educate the people of Texas and of the world.
 

Contact Us

If you've got questions, would like to place a gift shop order, or would simply like to know more about the Texas Prison System, we'd love to hear from you!

General Questions

David.stacks@txprisonmuseum.org

Conference Room Inquiries

Suzette.shaw@txprisonmuseum.org

Gift Shop Inquiries

Riley.tilley@txprisonmuseum.org

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Popular Exhibits

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Capital Punishment
Exhibit

From the time of Independence from Mexico until 1924, hanging was the lawful method of execution in Texas. Hangings took place in the county where the condemned person was convicted.

 

In 1924 the State of Texas took control of all executions and prescribed electrocution as the method. One of the most chilling exhibits at the Texas Prison Museum is "Old Sparky," the decommissioned electric chair in which 361 prisoners were executed between 1924 and 1964. This legendary device, made by prison workers, was in storage at the Walls Unit Death House before being donated to the museum, and is our most controversial exhibit.

Old Sparky

Prison Hardware

Various types of hardware have been used to contain inmates. This exhibit shows the different types of equipment used over the years, including the old ball and chain, pad locks, and modern handcuffs.

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Ball & Chain

Prison Art

Contraband

Bonnie & Clyde

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Plan Your Visit

Whether you've got a quick 45 minutes to browse, or a few hours to soak in some history, we've got something for everyone!

HOURS OF OPERATION

Monday - Saturday

10 am - 5 pm

Sunday

12 noon - 5pm

 

PLEASE NOTICE:

First Monday of Each Month 

Open at 12 Noon - 5 pm

In observance of holidays, the Texas Prison Museum is closed

Thanksgiving November 24 & 25, 2022; three days during Christmas, December 24, 25 & 26, 2022; New Year's Day January 1, 2023, and Easter April 9, 2023.

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End of Watch Memorial

Many Texas Department of Criminal Justice public servants have lost their lives in the line of duty and from the COVID-19 pandemic.  In honor of these fine men and women a remembrance memorial is slated for construction at the Texas Prison Museum.  The memorial will be a symbol of their unwavering service and ultimate sacrifice.  All donations are welcome and can be made here. 

 

If you have any questions, feel free to email our Director, David Stacks, at david.stacks@txprisonmusuem.org.

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Thank you for your donation!

This Week in Texas Prison History


Execution accounts are type transcriptions of actual newspaper articles that covered the inmate's execution. In order to maintain accurate historical context of the time period when the articles were written, the language used in them has not been changed.

 

November 28

1928 Huntsville Unit (Walls) - Morose and silent to the last, Lee Roy Merriman, 29, convicted and sentenced to die for a criminal assault on a Dallas girl nearly a year ago, went to the electric chair at the Huntsville prison shortly after midnight Thursday. Three charges of electricity were required to extinguish the last spark of life from the doomed man. He was pronounced dead at 12:24 a.m. Friday. Prison officials declared that Merriman never uttered a word, so far as they knew, from the time he entered the prison until Dr. C. W. Butler, chief prison physician, stood beside the body and said: "Now it is over." Sheriff Hal Hood and two deputies from Dallas were present at the execution. "I am glad that the state executes it criminals in the electric chair," the sheriff said. "I have no desire to electrocute anyone, but if it was my duty I could do it." Judge  Stanbope Henry, a member of the parole board, was in Huntsville, but was not present at the execution. When the prison clock struck midnight, Sheriff Hood remarked: "I'll bet that sounds different from any clock that Merriman ever heard." "And I'll bet Governor Moody is up looking at the clock also, in Austin, Dr. Butler said. The death march started from the "the little green door" with Captain Homer Knighten the first to step out of the death cell. Then came Merriman with two guards holding each arm. Lifted to Death Room Merriman's body was limp and he was virtually lifted to the death chamber, his feet dragging along the floor. His head was on his chest. When they got in front of the electric chair, Knighten placed his hand on Merriman's shoulder and said: "Merriman, have you got anything to say before you die?" The doomed man said nothing. Again, the captain repeated, in a louder tone: "Have you got anything to say?" Silence again. Merriman was strapped in the chair. His head still was bowed down. Captain Knighten motioned to the executioner. "All right." The first "shot" was applied at 12:12 a.m. A few moments later, Dr. Butler stepped up to examine the body. "Gentlemen, be quiet," he said, placing a stethoscope on Merriman's body. After the examination he stood looking at the man in the chair. "There is still a little movement of blood." Give him a little time and I think he will be all right." The current was applied again, and again the doctor examined the body. "His heart has stopped beating, and he is dead as far as that is concerned," he declared, "but there still is a little agitation of blood." The current was applied for the third time, for about 15 seconds after which Dr. Butler announced: "Now, it is over." Filing of application for a sanity hearing in Dallas Thursday by Rufus Merriman, a brother was expected to delay the execution, but Governor Moody indicated he believed the question of sanity had been decided by the jury and that he would not interfere on that score. Merriman was prepared for the execution early Thursday night. At 7 p.m. he was taken to the prison barber shop, where his head was shaved to fit the electrodes. At 8:30 p.m. the death warrant was read to him. The condemned man did not utter a word on either occasion, maintaining the same unbroken silence that marked his conduct all day. Earlier in the day he had eaten a hearty dinner. Then he paced his cell silently and hid his face whenever addressed. Merriman would not speak even when Bennie Aldridge, his companion in three Dallas criminal assault cases, shouted a greeting as he was escorted to the death cell one removed from his. No sign of recognition was given by Merriman as Aldridge was brought into death row at 3 p.m. after an automobile trip from Dallas accompanied by Sheriff Hal Hood and two deputies. He is under sentence to die December 19. Apparently in high spirits, Aldridge arrival at the penitentiary told  Warden F. F. Harrell that both he and Merriman were guilty of the crimes for which they have been sentenced to death. His chatty mood contrasted sharply with the stoical silence Merriman has maintained ever since reaching Huntsville. Warden Harrell Thursday afternoon warned Merriman of his impending doom after the latter had "eaten right smart" of a Thanksgiving dinner with turkey and all the fixings. "You had better prepare to die tonight," Warden Harrell told him. "It seems the people at Austin are going to do nothing in your behalf." Merriman, who had interrupted his agitated pacing made no response as he hid his face in his hands. He could not be prevailed upon to speak although Warden Harrell was eager to learn his religious faith so that a spiritual comforter could be called. Not even queries as to the disposition of his body roused him from his silence. Merriman was five feet 11 inches tall and well built. He is a blonde and his countenance nature is described as "hardened" reflecting factually the three penitentiary terms he has served in a many different states since his career of crime began in 1928 at the age of 18 years. These sentences include a two-year "stretch" for burglary in Oklahoma in 1918; a three to four-year term in New Mexico for robbery in 1920 and a 16-month penalty for grand larceny in Alabama in 1924 under the name of Bill Dozier. (Unknow Newspaper)