The tiny Red Hat Cellblock was the last stop of prisoners sentenced to be executed by electrocution. The building was named after the uniform worn by inmates who had been sentenced to death. They could be distinguished from other inmates by their red caps. Angola or the Farm is southwest of St. Francisville. The prison was built on plantation land near the Mississippi. Angola has a working farm, and inmates make or grow much of what they use. Inmates sentenced to death worked alongside other prisoners.
Shortly before the execution, the prisoners were moved into a cell in the Red Hat building to await the outcomes of their final appeals. The prisoner would be electrocuted in an inmate-constructed chair located at one end of the building. The inmates named the chair, Gruesome Gertie. After the inmate’s death was verified, his body would be carried in an inmate-constructed carriage. Many Angola inmates were buried on the grounds because they did not have family or funds. The carriage and Gruesome Gertie are shown as part the Angola Prison Museum. Read more of the history of Angola on the museum’s website. https://www.angolamuseum.org
Gertie remained in the Red Hat Cellblock until capital punishment by electrocution was abolished in Louisiana. The last electrocution in Louisiana was ordered in the earlyn1990’s. The farm, built on a plantation near the Mississippi river is an unusual prison, and worth a visit. It is a hour’s drive from St. Francisville. Each summer there is an annual prison rodeo in which the inmates participate. The rodeo is open to the public.