ALDERSON, W.Va. – Martha Stewart was the picture of loneliness Saturday as she explored the grounds of her new home – a federal prison camp in West Virginia.

There are more than 1,000 women doing time at the detention center, but Stewart was clearly alone with her thoughts as she took a noontime stroll by herself.

From a distance, with leafy trees and classic red brick buildings in the background, it almost looked like she could have been out for a leisurely walk at her sprawling Bedford, N.Y., estate.

But those weren’t khakis from Ralph Lauren’s Polo line Stewart was wearing; they were standard-issue slacks from the prison supply closet.

And she wasn’t checking on the autumn flowers in her greenhouse or gathering fresh eggs from the private henhouse for a gourmet brunch.

She was pacing a grass lawn between one of the austere “cottages” where the inmates double-bunk at night and the prison visitors center.

Stewart, 63, arrived at the camp in Alderson early Thursday morning to begin serving a five-month sentence for lying to federal investigators about a stock sale.

Her first hours were filled with humbling orientation chores: getting fingerprinted, a nude inspection and getting a cell.

It was an unpleasant change from her usual schedule of high-powered business meetings and expensive midtown lunches – and Stewart obviously steeled herself for the ordeal.

“When she came in, she was in good spirits,” a prison staffer told the New York Daily News.

“She was received professionally. She was treated just like anybody else, just like any inmate would be. She’s in good hands. She’ll be fine.”

When inmates aren’t working and sleeping, they’re allowed to wander the grounds of the minimum-security facility, which is devoid of razor-wire fences or armed guard towers.

And despite the cloudy skies over the Appalachian Mountains, Stewart took advantage of the chance to get some fresh air and solitude as soon as she could.

Her incarceration is the talk of the lockup, and Stewart is doing her best to fit in and hide her private torment.

Anna Madonna, who was visiting her niece at Alderson, said the young woman met the famous homemaking maven on her first night.

“She said she was very friendly and very cordial,” Madonna said.

Prison officials insist Stewart will be treated like any other convict: She’ll work seven hours a day at a menial job, eat bland meals and observe a curfew.

She can’t conduct business while she’s doing time, her phone calls will be restricted and there’s no Internet access.

But some prisoners are already worried that the multimillionaire will get the star treatment, said one woman who visited an inmate.

“She said, “It’s going to be a riot up there if they treat her better than they treat us,”‘ the visitor said.

Stewart can have visitors but won’t be able to communicate with her fans and customers through her Web site – which carries a farewell message from her.

“I am now one step closer to getting this awful time behind me,” it said.



(New York Daily News correspondent Tracy Connor reported from New York.)



(c) 2004, New York Daily News.

Visit the Daily News online at http://www.nydailynews.com/

Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

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ARCHIVE PHOTOS on KRT Direct (from KRT Photo Service, 202-383-6099): Martha Stewart

AP-NY-10-09-04 2149EDT



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