The Missouri Advisory Council on Historic Preservation will consider nominating the Missouri State Penitentiary for the National Register of Historic Places.
Sometimes called the “bloodiest 47 acres in America,” the Penitentiary was once the largest prison in the United States. It opened in 1836 and before it was decommissioned in 2004, it was the oldest operating correctional facility west of the Mississippi River.
Former MSP Deputy Warden Mark Schreiber said the Penitentiary was recognized by Jefferson City as a local historic landmark in the 1990s while still in operation. Schreiber said the prison should receive National Registry status for several different reasons.
“The prison is historical because of some the infamous individuals who served time there,” said Schreiber. “Pretty Boy Floyd, James Earl Ray, Sonny Liston, Adam Richetti, General John McDonald, George Thompson the famous abolitionist from 1841, there were various individuals, including some of the Bald Knobbers from southwest Missouri served time there all well, so it’s really historical from that standpoint.”
Schreiber said the council will consider the prison for its architecture and contribution to history. Schreiber said from an architectural standpoint, the Penitentiary is unique and spans a significant amount of time.
“Housing Unit 4 A Hall, which was built circa 1865 and opened in 1868 was continuously used. Inmate labor was used to actually build the building with stone,” said Schreiber. “Warden Horace Swift was also a renowned architect and he designed the building. That in itself is unusual.”
The council will meet in Joplin May 15th to consider the prison and eight other sites in Missouri. The list below includes the other commercial, residential and institutional properties and districts to be considered for listing in the National Register.
- Central Institute for the Deaf, 800 South Euclid Ave., St. Louis
- Cynthia-Kinzer Historic District, 900-1000 blks. of Cynthia and Kinzer Sts., 918-924 Maud St., 838-842 Kinzer Sts., and adjacent portions of N. 9th, 10th & 11th Sts., Poplar Bluff, Butler County
- Brahm-Mitchellette Motor Car Company, 3537 S. Kingshighway Blvd., St. Louis, (Historic Auto-Related Resources of St. Louis, Multiple Property Documentation Form)
- Prairie View Stock Farm, Hwy WW, 3.3 miles south of intersection of Hwy A and Hwy WW, Rich Hill vic., Vernon County
- Dutchtown South Historic District, Roughly bounded by S. Grand Blvd. and Delor St., Alabama Ave., Liberty St., Virginia Ave., and Bingham Ave., St. Louis, (South St. Louis Historic Working- and Middle-Class Streetcar Suburbs Multiple Property Documentation Form)
- The Fairfax Building, 101 W. 11th St., Kansas City, Jackson County
- Interstate Bakeries Corporation Headquarters Building, 12 E. Armour Blvd., Kansas City, Jackson County
- Claverach Park, Roughly bounded by Clayton Rd., Wydown Blvd., Crestwood Dr. and Ridgemoor Dr., Clayton, St. Louis County