Tours resume at Missouri State Penitentiary

Staff say mold abatement and roof repairs at Missouri State Penitentiary should be complete by the time full tours begin July 1.

The halls of the Missouri State Penitentiary re-opened for limited tours Monday, the first time tours have taken place since they were halted in September 2013.

Leaky roofs, mold, and other building issues made it too dangerous for tours to take place, forcing officials to end tours early until repairs could be made to the 178 year-old prison.

Jefferson City and the State of Missouri have each contributed $1 million dollars toward making the repairs. Tourism Coordinator Sheila Sanford said the repairs are nearly complete.

"They are doing some mold abatement, asbestos, lead paint removal, putting in some new electrical service for us," Sanford said. "They're going to be fixing the roof and fixing windows."

Sanford said she expects everything to be done before full tours begin July first. When visitors step through the gates, Sanford said they can expect all the buildings that were open last year to be open again this year.

Several people who took the tour Monday said they think it was worth it. Savannah Davis said going through the old prison left her with a lasting impression.

"It's pretty unique," Davis said. "I would never, ever want to be here. Ever."

Columbia resident Billy Goodson said he thinks everyone in the state should make a point to take a tour at the penitentiary. "This is one of the greatest things Missouri has got to show people," Goodson said. "It pretty well proves that you don't want to run afoul of the law. You want to be very honest and stay out of places like this, because it's very scary in there!"