The Martha Stewart Visitors Guide

Martha Stewart Visitor Guide
Photo: Joe Ciardiello

The hottest ticket of the social season: a spot on Martha Stewart’s list of approved visitors at the Alderson Federal Prison Camp in West Virginia. Just who will be invited to see Martha in prison-issue khakis is unclear—Mariana Pasternak is probably persona non grata, and Peter Bacanovic will need special permission from the warden (since he’s been convicted of a crime), but pals Oprah Winfrey, Rosie O’Donnell, and publicist Susan Magrino might make the cut. Here’s what they need to know when they go.

Getting there.
Fuel up the private jet—it’s much more convenient than taking US Airways through Charlotte. The Greenbrier Valley Airport in nearby Lewisburg can accommodate planes as large as 737s, but be sure to give them two weeks’ notice.

Where to stay.
The Alderson Hospitality House, a 114-year-old Victorian home operated by a Christian charity group, provides free rooms for prisoners’ family members. But Martha insiders will bypass those unpretentious accommodations for the Greenbrier. Half an hour down the road, the resort sits on a 6,500-acre wooded estate complete with three world-renowned golf courses. Prices start at $520 a night in October. Martha’s friends will also be pleased with the Greenbrier’s discretion: PR manager Lynn Swann refuses to divulge whether Alexis Stewart has booked a room.

When to visit.
Good guests know to drop by only during appropriate visiting hours: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays; and 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Mondays and holidays.

What to wear.
As at a tony Connecticut country club, “provocative or revealing clothes” like halter tops and miniskirts are frowned upon. Do consider a sun hat: According to one recent Alderson visitor, there’s an outdoor seating area.

What to bring.
You may be tempted to come bearing plum pudding, but visitors are strictly prohibited from giving prisoners anything from the outside. The Federal Bureau of Prisons does suggest bringing a roll of quarters: You can purchase snacks for Martha from the vending machines.What not to bring. Don’t try to slip Martha any cash (or weapons or drugs); attempting to bring in contraband is punishable by up to twenty years in prison. Also, leave your cell phone, digital camera, and BlackBerry in the limo.

Greeting Martha.
As happy as you’ll be to see Martha in the flesh, don’t get too intimate. While handshakes, hugs, and kisses are permitted, physical displays must be “within the bounds of good taste.”

Polite conversation.
Martha might be eager to discuss quarterly earnings, but the Bureau of Prisons generally prohibits business-related visits. Instead, chat about the friends she’s made (perhaps former North Carolina agriculture commissioner Meg Scott Phipps, who’s serving time for campaign-finance fraud) or the activities she’s involved in. (Groundskeeping? Sanitation?)

You can always write.
Not on the list? Send Martha a letter, card, or issue of Martha Stewart Living. (No hardcover cookbooks, please.) Her address: Martha Stewart, Register No. 55170-054, FPC Alderson, Alderson, WV 24910.

The Martha Stewart Visitors Guide