The complex was highly self-sufficient; the large acreage of the purchase allowed the boys to grow their own food, raise livestock and learn farming trades. Additionally, there was a print shop, bakery and cobbler shop where the young delinquents and otherwise homeless boys could learn skills for self-preservation in the real world.
The school officially opened on June 13, 1894, and the first wards moved in only two weeks later. The superintendent controlled life inside the Preston School of Industry, where discipline was extreme. Loss of privileges seemed minor in comparison to starvation, isolation, and public paddling and lashings, severe strategies that were common at Preston.
There's No Escape
A convicted burglar, Samuel Goins, arrived at Preston School in July 1918. Within his first year, Samuel attempted to escape Preston three times. On April 19, 1919, during his third attempt, a Preston guard named John Kelly shot Samuel in the back; at 20 years old, he died two months shy of his release date. Samuel is buried in the Preston cemetery, along with 16 other young men who died within the school walls -- most from diseases like Yellow Fever and Tuberculosis.
The murder of Samuel Goins was not the only fatal act of violence that occurred at the school. In 1950, Preston's head housekeeper, Anna Corbin, was beaten to death in the school's basement. A flimsy case was formed against Eugene Monroe, one of the few black children at the school. Tried twice, the jury was hung each time; Anna Corbin's killer was never found.
Attend the Haunted School
The Preston School of Industry closed its doors in 1960, and those who have toured the grounds since have reported many strange sights and sounds; slamming doors, falling objects, disembodied voices and ghostly physical contact. And now, you can experience the paranormal firsthand; beginning in April 2009, Preston Castle is offering monthly overnight ghost tours.