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Ballard asked for protection from federal troops stationed at Construction began on the Idaho Territorial Prison in 1870 and was completed by 1872.
The prison was in use by the territory, then the state until 1973.
In 1928 this building was remodeled for inmate occupancy and became the first cell house with indoor plumbing.
The Womens Ward (1905-1906) was built out of necessity.
The balcony entrances are there so that the public can watch the legislature while it is in session. The new location was selected because it was near the intersection of the Oregon Trail with a major road connecting the Accounts differ about the origin of the name. It was built by Nathaniel Wyeth's American Trading Company.
The Old Idaho State Penitentiary was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 for its significance as a Territorial Prison.
The site currently contains museums and an arboretum..
Prior to its completion women did not have separate quarters.
Male inmates built a wall around the old Wardens home to serve as a separate facility for women.
On the north side of the second floor rotunda is the statue of George Washington astride a horse.