Tour of the old Missouri State Penitentiary

I spent a chilly two hours this morning touring the old Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City. The prison was decommissioned in 2004, replaced by a new facility east of the city. I took a similar tour several years ago when the prison was still being used. Not sure which was more interesting. I was lucky to get in on this one, since they don’t do tours. Thanks to Jeff City Mayor John Landwehr for making it happen.


The old facility is rich in history and our guides –Charlie Brzuchalski and Mark Schreiber– shared one fascinating fact and story after another. It was the oldest prison west of the Mississippi (opened the same year the Battle of the Alamo was fought?) and, at one time, was the largest prison in the world, with 5,200 inmates. Former inmates include James Earl Ray, Pretty Boy Floyd, Sonny Liston and Stagger Lee. Plans for the old prison and grounds include redevelopment and restoration.

I’ll be posting some photos here in coming days but you can check out the flickr set and slideshow now. Titles and captions to come.

UPDATE: Mark Schreiber is the author of “Somewhere in time : 170 year history of Missouri Corrections.”

5 thoughts on “Tour of the old Missouri State Penitentiary

  1. I spent three years working the graveyard shift at MSP in
    the seventies. I was working in d hall one nite and my clerk whos
    name was Bobby Shuler if i remember right. He was serving a long
    sentence for killilg some truck drivers during a truckers strike by
    shooting at it while they were hauling explosives. any way after
    talking to him I enrolled in truck driver school and spent the next
    30 years trucking but i can still remember walking thru the 4 story
    housing units by myself at 2am counting 300 or 400 hundred sleeping
    inmates. i dont know if you find any of this interesting but i
    enjoyed your web site, thanks

  2. Thanks for your interest, Steve. The MSP site is almost too much for the senses to take in. You walk off the Capitol Avenue sidewalk into this huge weird world and two hours later step back onto the sidewalk. Like Dorothy visiting Oz.

  3. Thanks for the pics Steve, it was like I was there! The pic in the death chamber was stirring!

  4. The Flickr slideshow speaks loudly without captions – the palpable sorrow of so many wasted lives, lost and broken spirits.

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