Here's a compelling vignette on two sides of the same door. It comes in two images from the Historic American Building Survey and are of the Old Jail (built in 1690 and located on State Route 6A & Old Jail Lane) of Barnstable, Massachusetts. What is so shocking to me is the graffiti of an American schooner picking its way through a sea of tapered nails on the bad side of the door. It is just heartbreaking (if you can remove from your mind whatever offense this fellow was in jail for) to think of someone scratching away at something this personal on what looks like massive, first-growth, very hard hardwood: and certainly within smelling distance of the water.
Seeing the picture below gives a better idea of the primitive weight of the door and the impossibility of getting away from what seemed essentially to be a windowless room of tight two-inch thick hardwood. If you've ever been in an old New England barn in June you would have found that the place could still be cold inside--and not a simple cold, either, but a bone-breaking cold.. This jail must've been pretty inhospitable in the winter, what with the wet windy northers and the frozen mist coming in from Barnstable Harbor. It just plain wouldn't have been good.
The other--good--side of the door, and the better place to be, if you had to be in that building: