Original and subsequent owners and uses Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia Pennsylvania

Joseph and Benjamin Warner were the last private individuals to own the eleven acre tract known as "Cherry Hill." In his history of Eastern State Penitentiary, Richard Vaux wrote that before the property was sold, the Warners were permitted to remove the following: "Trees, shrubbery and fences; two small hayhouses or stables and the hay barrack; the mantle and fire places in the mansion house; the copper boiler and stone troughs in the milk house, and the crops in the ground." The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania purchased the property on 24 November 1821 and funded the erection of the Eastern State Penitentiary between 1822 and 1836. The institution served as place of incarceration for those persons convicted of state crimes in the eastern district of Pennsylvania. The first eighty-four years marked the official span of the "Pennsylvania System" of prison operations; from 1913 on, Eastern State Penitentiary implemented a congregate system.

On 21 February 1938, The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (through the Department of Property and Supplies) transferred ownership of the site to the General State Authority. Over Eastern's 161 years as a penal institution, several movements gathered support in an effort to shut the facility down and redevelop the site. For example, when the Governor signed a 1915 bill for a new prison in Centre County (Rockview), a newspaper article hungrily reported that Eastern State occupied "one of the finest blocks of ground in the city" ripe for development as 200-300 units of housing. Other serious calls to close the prison surfaced periodically throughout the 20th century. The prison officially shut down in January 1970, and the last prisoners left in April.

In 1971, the State of Pennsylvania leased the site to the City of Philadelphia for $1. Following a riot at Holmesburg County Prison, the city transferred a number of inmates to Eastern as an emergency measure in 1971. The lease agreement was renewed until 1977, when the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the General State Authority sold the property to the City of Philadelphia for $162,526.15. For most of the 1970's and 1980's Eastern State served the City as a adhoc site for the storage of municipal trucks and for the training of police dogs. The Philadelphia Film Commission permitted recording artists Tina Turner and the Dead Milkmen to film music videos on the site.

In 1988, the newly-created Eastern State Penitentiary Task Force succeeded in convincing the Mayor to discourage the Redevelopment Authority from settling on a private development proposal for the site. Reorganized as a committee of the Philadelphia Preservation Coalition, the Task Force developed an agreement with the Pennsylvania Prison Society (the current incarnation of the Philadelphia Society for Alleviating the Miseries of Public Prisons) to pursue operation of the property as an historic site. The city granted a renewable one-year lease, and by 1994, Eastern State Penitentiary was open for tours on a May to October calendar.

Since its reopening as a historic site, Eastern has provided a setting for artistic endeavors. Several photographers have made the prison their subject and mounted exhibits within the walls. In 1994, the Iron Age Theater staged an on-site production of "Tunnel," a dramatic interpretation of the 1945 escape attempt from Eastern State Penitentiary. Director Terry Gilliam filmed several scenes of "12 Monkeys" on site in 1995. Eastern also gained critical notice when it hosted the "Prison Sentences: The Prison As Site/The Prison As Subject" art exhibition of "temporary site-specific installations" during the 1995 season.