Nixon Announces Agreement to Reopen Penitentiary

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JEFFERSON CITY - Gov. Jay Nixon announced Wednesday morning that an agreement has been reached that will allow tours to resume at the Missouri State Penitentiary.

Nixon said the state and Jefferson City agreed on a $2 million project to clean and renovate the historic site, with the state and city splitting the cost of the repairs evenly.

The Missouri State Penitentiary opened in 1836 and closed in 2004. Since 2009, the site had been used as a museum.

In late September, health inspectors found higher than acceptable levels of mold throughout the site. The renovations and cleanup will take place primarily in Housing Units 1, 3, 4 and the gas chamber. 

Nixon said, "The Missouri State Penitentiary is an iconic Jefferson City landmark that attracts thousands of visitors each year. This agreement will ensure that its rich history can continue to be shared and experienced by all, while protecting the health and safety of staff and visitors at the site." 

One member of the Jefferson City Historical Society Commission personally thanked Gov. Nixon for preserving the penitentiary.

"I am very, very excited," Bill Case said. "It's so important that the state and city work together on preserving this piece of history. I'm so glad the governor reached an agreement with the city."

Nixon said funding from the state has been allocated for the project and Jefferson City's funding will come from the city's half-cent sales tax.

Governor Nixon said there is no definite timetable but tours should resume next spring.