Monday, October 17, 2016

Old Pea Farm/Caddo Parish Penal Farm - Shreveport, LA (The Abandoned Big House)

Photo courtesy of
West 70th St.
Shreveport, LA 71129

            With all the years that I have worked in corrections, I have always had a special interest in old abandoned jails. Throw in the concept of a haunted jail and you can bet your life I will be there! As previously mentioned with the Deridder Gothic Jail and Angola State Penitentiary, prisons are notorious for being home to vast amounts of negative energy associated with years of depression, abuse and violence. Such is the case with one particular prison hidden amongst the woods of
Location of the Old Pea Farm. Click to Enlarge.
Shreveport. Although a shell of its former self, the ruined shambles of the old Caddo Parish Penal Farm peeks through the trees off of West 70th Street as a grim reminder of a rough and rugged prison of the past.

            The land that the prison sits on was once home to the plantation of Governor Caesar Carpentier Antoine. Antoine was the third of three African-American Republicans who were elected and served as the Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana during the era of Reconstruction. As his political career dwindled down, he would move to Shreveport and build his home here where he opened up a small family grocery.

            By the turn of the twentieth century, newly elected Caddo Parish Sheriff, Samuel J. Ward,
Caesar Carpentier Antoine.
promoted the need for a strong and efficient Sheriff's Office and urged the passage of several taxes to fund its growth. Not only did the duties and responsibilities of the Sheriff's Office expand, so did the size of its staff and inmate population. The parish was in need of a new jail to accommodate its rise in confinement rates. The land where Antoine’s plantation once stood was purchased by the parish and was a prime location to build this needed prison.

           In 1905, the Caddo Parish Penal Farm was built. The prison was run as any penal institution of the time, with acres upon acres of farmland that was tended to by its prisoners. The crops grown here were not only used to feed the inmate population but were also sold to generate funds for the prison. For defiant inmates, the rule was often simple; you don’t work, you don’t eat! The prison was eventually nicknamed the “Pea Farm”, not for the vegetable, but simply as an abbreviation for the penal farm that it was.
           Adjacent to the main building, said to house the more violent criminals, was a women’s dormitory, ironically also called a penal farm. I always thought that was pretty comical when a prison for women was called that. Sort of like other contradictory terms such as jumbo shrimp, black blue jeans, and an honest politician!
           The conditions at the Pea Farm were not said to be the most luxurious of its time. Elders who were housed here years ago have said that brutality from the guards was not an uncommon thing
Photo courtesy of
there. Some are said to have been killed from unnecessary uses of force. Next to the prison is a Potter’s Cemetery, housing many of the prisoners who died while incarcerated. Many feel that the land is also home to unmarked burials of those who died under more mysterious conditions. It has often been rumored that no matter what part of this land you stick a shovel in; you are likely to uncover a body.

            The prison was shut down in the mid 1950’s. As with the Ellerbe Road School, the Pea Farm remains in shambles and is on heavily patrolled posted property. Still, this doesn’t deter paranormal enthusiast and urban explorers from sneaking onto the grounds at late hours of the night. Those that have made the visit report creepy catacombs of old jail cells, some of which are decorated with shackles that are still mounted on the walls as a reminder of the harsh conditions once experienced. Locals feel that the spirits of the many who died here still wander through the buildings. People who have visited the Pea Farm claim to have been touched by unseen hands and hear the sounds of moaning and sobbing. The apparitions of black, shadowed figures have also been reported. Take these accounts for what it’s worth, as the Pea Farm has also been one of those mysterious locations no one can access but is steeped with legendary haunted encounters. Still, the fact that this was a prison, home to violent criminals and years of abuse has to bring a little more validity to the rumors. Again, as incredible as the pictures and claims are, I highly recommend you not visiting the prison, as it will probably garner you your very own “Go To Jail” card. Do not pass go and do not collect two hundred dollars!  


  1. Why isn't it turned into a historical building and made a Museum

    1. it's on private property- those who own the property say it'll cause a safety hazard because of the company that owns it (i can't remember who) so people can't just go to it whenever they want

    2. It is owned by General Electric and is on private Property

  2. I had a "friend" that took her husband and friends to discover this haunted treasure a couple of times. They live about a mile away. I, I mean my friend was terrified the whole time she were back there. The fleas we're so bad it added to the nerves. The woods were so thick she could never find the women's prison in the supposed Cemetery. it would be so cool to put on some waiters and walk around in that basement but it's flooded I know at least knee deep.Such a cool spot. It definitely should an enter at you own risk because of the dangers of the dilapidated building but I think any person that wants to see it should be able to. Similar to the ellerbe Road School, it is only an empty shell.

    1. I’d definitely stay away from the flea infestation! Lol

  3. I've got pictures of the women's part of the prison. It's hard to find but it's a little east of the main prison behind a wall of bamboo. I have pics of it on my FB page. Trey young / pea farm