How could I review a place called Prison Brew without going to a real prison? Well, I can’t.
This past weekend, we went on a Ghost Tour at the Missouri State Penitentiary.
From 1836-2004, Missouri State Penitentiary was one the most populous and well used prisons in the United States. Not only was the prison the site of the state’s Gas Chamber (later converted to Lethal Injection), but it held many famous people (criminals)- Pretty Boy Floyd, James Earl Ray (who later escaped and went on to kill MLK) and Sonny Liston…just to name a few.
With such history, and an opportunity to skulk around in the dark, I couldn’t pass this up.
While I could go into the spooky happenings and ghost stories of the place, I instead choose to refrain – encouraging you to take the tour yourself. You wont be disappointed.
However, I will give you a taste….especially with some items that pertain to a blog such as mine.
The first such thing that “grabs” you is the ITC JCCC mural painted on the wall as you head into the women’s section of the prison. ITC stood for Intensive Therapy Community, was for substance abuse and hosted the prisons chapter of AA.
One can only imagine the number of addicts and alcoholics that prevailed through the prison, habits that would have continues through smuggled contraband and prison hooch.
Right next to this mural is a door leading in, but you cannot see much….which brings up a special note about the prison tour. At certain points, there are areas you cannot go into due to safety concerns – either due to structural integrity, lingering chemicals (asbestos) or the condition of the area. In this case, it could have been all three. However, at another point in the tour….I was able to find a hole in the door and get a shot inside….so you could see where their meetings took place.
I’ve include both with and without flash here. Notice the state that the building was left in. This is apparent all throughout the prison, with abandoned furniture, files and equipment everywhere. It definitely adds eeriness to the place. Also, throughout the prison, there are some areas with lights on, even though you cannot get there. We were told that they leave those lights on out of fear that they would never turn on again if turned off. Spooky.
Another thing I found interesting was a mural detailing the 12 Steps of AA. My picture does not do justice to how big this was, nor the sad state of disrepair. Imagine how many down cast ladies (again, this was in the woman’s section) passed this daily – possibly wishing they had learned them sooner. As an added bonus, the artists names are still visible – one of them standing out to me. Interestingly, looking down this hall was my first “Contact” of the evening. I wont go into details, one because I don’t want to taint anyone else on the tour, but if anyone stands here and looks towards the stairs (past the woman’s solitary cell) and sees something, Email me. I would love to compare notes.
The last Mural I wanted to share was in the main Men’s block (forgive me, I don’t recall the name), and goes to show how far and to what detail men would go for a little comfort of home. Over the cell door (going out) of one of the cells, someone painted a little reminder of what he was missing from the outside world. This was rather sobering (no pun intended) as it puts into perspective (as do many other items on the tour) how hard of a life this could be on people.
Of course, no trip to the Penn would be complete without a visit to the gas chamber.
So here I am, sitting in the seat that was later converted to handle lethal injection. I only wish I would have bummed a cigarette for a last smoke.
In the end, this tour was tons of fun and I highly recommend it. In fact, some of us are even looking at doing the overnight tour, where you can conduct your own paranormal investigations. Sound a little far fetched? Well, recently the crew from Ghost Hunters did their one research, and this prison will soon be the topic of the show….so there must be something to it.
Grabs some friends, hit the bar and enjoy a frightful night in JC. You’ll be glad you did.