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Missouri State Penitentiary timeline

Missouri State Penitentiary, the first prison built west of the Mississippi River, opened in Jefferson City in 1836 and closed in 2004. Here's a timeline of the history of MSP.

1833: Missouri State Penitentiary, the first prison built west of the Mississippi River, authorized and approved by the General Assembly.

1836: First prisoner arrives at a four-acre tract on the eastern edge of the city.

By 1900: The property has reached one-third of its eventual 142-acre size.

By late 1930s: The 47 acres within the limestone walls are in use and the federal Works Progress Administration projects adds many buildings, including the gas chamber.

1938-1965: 39 people are executed at the MSP before lethal injection.

1954: Historic riot.

1982: Last building constructed there is Housing Unit 5C, also known as the Super Max, which holds the hardest, most dangerous criminals.

January 1989: George “Tiny” Mercer executed by lethal injection in the gas chamber — the first execution after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed them to resume, and the last execution at MSP.

June 1998: Gov. Mel Carnahan approves a $9 million appropriation to begin designing a new prison to replace the MSP, which had been renamed the Jefferson City Correctional Center.

August 1999: Office of Administration’s Design and Construction presents a planning concept to governor’s office, state leadership, and county and city officials.

October 1999: First meeting of the planning task force.

November-December 1999: Public forums held for redevelopment ideas.

April 2000: Master Plan Design Charrette draws professional design and planning consultants.

July 2000: Parsons selected as Master Plan consultant.

September-November 2000: Public forums held regarding the Consensus Plan as part of the Master Plan process.

February 2001: Rep. Bill Gratz, D-Wardsville, files bill to create the MSP Redevelopment Commission, signed in July by Gov. Bob Holden. “To me, this property is a diamond in the future for the city. The opportunity is unlimited,” said Gratz.

August 2001: Commission becomes active: original members were state appointments chairman Steve Roling, Kas Mahfood, Sara Riddick and Jim Callis; city appointments John Landwehr, John Sheehan and Mark Schreiber; and county appointments Jim Wunderlich, Bob Meyer and Duane Weaver.

November 2002: Master Plan presented to commission by Parsons.

July 2003: Cole County Presiding Commissioner Bob Jones discusses the possibility of building the jail, sheriff’s office, a criminal justice facility and a federal courthouse at the MSP.

July 2003: The commission begins to develop a plan for transfer or lease of the land to work with future developers.

July 2003: Missouri Film Commission notes several inquiries from film producers interested in the location.

May 2003: Senate Bill 275 would give the governor authority to transfer all the property to the commission.

August 2004: Office of Administration agrees to caretaking when the Department of Corrections vacates.

September 2004: Design and Construction staff creates a five-year caretaking plan, complete with building assessments and anticipated costs.

September 2004: Inmates relocated to new Jefferson City Correctional Center.

October 2004: More than 10,000 members of public turn out for a one-day tour of the site.

Fall 2004: Commission approves design guidelines.

Fall 2004: City initiates the Central East End Neighborhood Plan task force, addressing the area roughly bounded by Adams and Marshall streets; Whitton Expressway and Riverside Drive with the Renn Addition secondary.

October 2004: Master Developer Request for Qualifications prepared.

October 2004: Commission minutes record expected state funds in Fiscal Year 2007 for caretaking, particularly roofs.

July 2005: $500,000 appropriated for a one-time decommissioning of MSP buildings.

September 2005: Missouri River Regional Library addresses the commission with its design consultants considering the possibility of locating a new library on the site.

April 2005: Discussions with the Chamber of Commerce’s riverfront committee to access the Missouri River.

April 2005: Request for Proposals sought for historic tours.

Spring 2005: Section of prison wall on Capitol Avenue crumbles.

Spring 2005: Offices occupied in the Lewis and Clark office building by the Department of Natural Resources.

March 2006: Planning for federal courthouse construction begins.

March 2006: The Missouri Naval Museum proposes a museum with decommissioned U.S. Naval ships on the Missouri River at the site.

June 2006: Site used by the University of Missouri Fire School and subsequent years.

Spring-summer 2006: City develops Chestnut Street for access to parking area inside walls.

September 2006: Public meeting held to discuss MSP redevelopment and the federal courthouse project.

Fall 2006: MSP Master Plan adopted as the city’s Planned Urban Development plan.

November 2006: City and county commit $2 million each for MSP projects.

December 2006: Master Developer Request for Qualifications sent out.

January 2007: City proceeds with Lafayette Street development project.

March 2007: Site survey reveals the property line is 50 feet farther north than the retaining wall and fence.

July 2007: New state health lab opens.

August 2007: Commission forms a budget committee.

February 2008: Six master developer applications reviewed.

February 2008: Missouri Department of Natural Resources Letter of Interest in the Historic District Property.

July 2008: Surplus Property moves to Church Farm.

October 2008: Federal courthouse groundbreaking.

October 2008: McCormack Baron Salazar selected as master developer.

December 2008: CVB proposes historic tours.

December 2008: City’s Capitol Avenue reconstruction completed.

January 2009: Newly elected Gov. Jay Nixon addresses MSP issues in State of the State address.

February 2009: Office of Administration new director of design and construction, Jeff Schaeperkoetter, emphasized MSP redevelopment is in Gov. Nixon’s “Top 3” priorities.

May 2009: Commission’s Development Sub-Committee tours site with developers interested in adaptive reuse of existing buildings vision of the MSP site.

May 2009: Schaeperkoetter believes a memorandum of understanding with the master developer needs to be significantly revisited.

August 2009: Money for payment to master developer withheld by state.

December 2009: State unveils its “preliminary” MSP redevelopment plans.

February 2010: Amendment to parcel allocation plan proposed by OA to identify area of responsibility for development, including what areas the state wants to keep.

March 2010: Targeted Brownfield Assessments /EDPA (federal stimulus money) removes hazards.

March 2010: City receives Community Development Block Grant funds for demolition and clearing of targeted buildings.

March 2010: After stopping the master developer process, the state now says it cannot act as developer by statute.

May 2010: Boundaries defined for commission to pursue private development are: Union Pacific right-of-way on the north, Capitol Avenue on the south, Cherry Street extended on the east and Lafayette Street on the west.

September 2010: Commissioners meet with mayor and form committee to explore funding resources.

September 2010: CVB suggests changing the name of the historic district to the “Museum District,” hires an architect to do some preliminary concepts of the district, including relocating the gas chamber to the upper yard.

January 2011: Commission votes to recommend to the City of Jefferson and the Housing Authority to begin the study to establish an urban renewal district for the MSP property.

January 2011: Commission adopts Request for Proposal document for distribution to potential developers.

January 2011: A grant from Project CommuniTree provides 150 trees called for in the Master Plan.

June 2011: 175th anniversary of MSP celebrated.

April 2011: Commission is prepared to distribute a Request for Proposals for the private development areas designated by the governor’s office. The Office of Administration objects because it has not received authorization, despite having the document for four months. The commission withdraws the RFP vote after chamber Transformation representatives request it be included in their action team recommendations.

April 2011: Commissioners are not invited to a meeting with legislators, city staff, chamber officials, Office of Administration and other community members with the “intent ... to develop a consensus plan to facilitate the movement forward of this project in a cooperative effort.”

April 2011: Design approved for the Lafayette Street interchange with U.S. 54.

August 2011: Federal courthouse opens.

August 2011: Work begins on greenway from Riverside Park to the Lewis and Clark State Office Building.

January 2012: Jefferson City enters into a non-binding agreement with the state for use of the MSP site if the sales tax campaign, Transformation, passes.

February 2012: Transformation fails at the polls.

May 2012: Nathan Nickolaus, city administrator, said the Master Plan was “dead” in a News Tribune article, prompting the commission to reaffirm its primary objective is to see the Master Plan completed.

May 2012: A Community Development Block Grant from the Department of Economic Development to the city has provided for demolition of selected non-historic buildings, following the path of the Master Plan’s MSP Parkway linking Lafayette to Chestnut streets.

May 2012: City “town hall” meetings recommend the city’s $2 million designated from the capital improvements sales tax could go toward repair of historic buildings.

August 2012: Office of Administration agrees “in principle” to the possibility of an entity leasing the historic area.

May 2013: The Legislature passes a two-year capital improvements bill, which includes funding for a new state office building on the MSP grounds.

Related articles:

Who's at the helm of MSP?

Master Plan casts a bold dream for MSP

Frank Burkhead brings accountability to MSP panel

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