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Convention and Visitors Bureau approves MSP lights project

Convention and Visitors Bureau approves MSP lights project

January 23rd, 2018 by Nicole Roberts in News

The painting of Sonny Liston on the inside of the stone walls of the former Missouri State Penitentiary has faded over the years so the Jefferson City Convention and Visitors Bureau is considering a project to restore it.

Photo by Julie Smith /News Tribune.

Missouri State Penitentiary visitors can anticipate a couple of new preservation projects at the old prison this year.

The Jefferson City Convention and Visitors Bureau Board of Directors approved re-using two original light fixtures from the old prison's entryway during a Monday meeting.

When the Jefferson City Correctional Center moved in 2004, employees took two light fixtures to be used at the new prison. However, the lights have not been used since the move, CVB Executive Director Diane Gillespie said.

The CVB approved a contract with Meyer Electric Co. of Jefferson City to restore the lights for almost $25,000.

Restoring the two light fixtures, including placing LED lights in them, will take eight to 12 weeks to complete.

The light fixtures would sit on two bases at the old prison's entryway.

The board did not decide whether they want the two bases to be stone or metal. The two stone columns would cost $9,100 combined, Gillespie said, while the metal bases would cost approximately $9,840 combined.

While Meyer Electric Co. works on the lights, the board will look at the stone and metal base designs and approve one at a future meeting.

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Gillespie said the total project could cost up to $35,000 but added Jefferson City might put $20,000 toward it. The city's budget includes $20,000 for Missouri State Penitentiary improvements.

The CVB also wants to preserve a mural of professional boxer and one-time Missouri State Penitentiary inmate Charles "Sonny" Liston.

Liston was an MSP inmate from 1950-52 and went on to win the National Heavyweight Championship in 1953.

When the CVB reached out to local artists about preserving the mural, located on a wall by the Chestnut Street parking lot, the bid prices were too expensive, Gillespie said.

The board said they wanted to have more options for the painting. They also want to see a photo of the original mural so it can possibly be replicated.

More than 33,000 visitors went through the old prison in 2017 — up from about 32,800 in 2016 — bringing in more than $679,000 in revenue. After expenses, that leaves a net profit of $200,000 that will go toward the two preservation projects.

The agreement between the state of Missouri and CVB states the net profit made from the prison tours must go back into the MSP property.