Jefferson City and the State of Missouri reached an agreement Wednesday to renovate the historic Missouri State Penitentiary.
The Missouri State Penitentiary cancelled tours in late September after an inspection revealed mold in public areas of the historic site. But Governor Jay Nixon said the state and city will now work together to improve the landmark so tours can resume in the spring of 2014.
“Today we’re here to announce an agreement between the state and Jefferson City that will ensure the penitentiary’s rich history can continue to be shared and experienced by all while protecting the health and safety of staff and visitors to the site,” Nixon said. “The city and state will split the cost of cleaning up the areas used by the staff and visitors fifty-fifty, allowing the Convention and Visitors Bureau to resume tours next spring.”
Jefferson City and the State of Missouri will evenly split up to $2,000,000 in cost for the project. State Senator Mike Kehoe said the joint investment is worth the economic impact from over 20,000 visitors annually.
“By the number of tours and guests they have had come through this facility, it was pretty easy to make the case that not only is it important to keep the historical elements alive but the economic impact is fantastic for our state and local areas,” Kehoe said.
Kehoe said tourism supports more than 280,000 jobs in Missouri and accounts for more than $11.2 billion in annual revenue for the state.
The new agreement will fund renovations and cleanup of the prison’s housing units and gas chamber. In the future, the Missouri State Penitentiary can operate tours between March 1st and November 30th each year. The Missouri State Penitentiary opened in 1836 and was the oldest prison in operation west of the Mississippi River when it closed in 2004. The Jefferson City Convention and Visitors Bureau opened a museum about the penitentiary on High Street in May 2013.