In 2005, I proposed my glass house to The Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site in Philadelphia. My proposal replaces what were originally, before subsequent restoration and stabilization, missing window panes, as well as some of the upper glazing, on the front east-face of the green house with glass plate photograms of botanical specimens living within the walls of Eastern State.

The histories of the medium of Photography and of Eastern State Penitentiary parallel each other almost perfectly, with Eastern State predating photography's invention in 1839 by just a few years. Penitentiary drawings from 1860 show a long, narrow greenhouse near the end of Cellblock Four, presumably with glass panes. Just three years later in 1863, the British photographer Julia Margaret Cameron set up her studio in the glazed chicken house located on her country estate Freshwater (which she later wrote about in Annals of My Glass House). Here, with her large wooden camera, she made her first negatives on coated glass plates. The camera was a gift from her daughter and son-in-law in the hope that it would divert Mrs. Cameron's thoughts and energies into a new channel, and ease her depression during her solitude.

If it is true that Eastern State's greenhouse was used primarily to reward good behavior and promote positive change, it's purpose parallels that of Mrs. Cameron's camera. The penitentiary greenhouse's glass shingle roof and paned windows seem an apt symbol for reflection, as must have those of Mrs. Cameron's chicken coop. In each of these glazed boxes, light did it's magic.