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Historic Jefferson City penitentiary temporarily cancels tours

The Missouri State Penitentiary has cancelled its tours for the rest of the 2013 season, a move that could hinder potential tourism in Jefferson City.

The Jefferson City Convention and Visitors Bureau announced Wednesday that state testing found a mold problem at the penitentiary. The state prohibits anyone from entering the building until it’s cleared up. Convention and Visitors Bureau spokesperson Ryan Burns said she hopes the closing will not keep future visitors away.

“It’s unfortunate that those people that we’ve had to cancel their tours,” Burns said. “We hope that they’ll still come to Jefferson City and visit our other attractions and go to our restaurants and shop in our stores, buy gas here and sleep in our hotels, but it is unfortunate to lose this attraction.”

The Missouri State Penitentiary was built in 1836 and at its peak housed 5,200 inmates. The penitentiary was also featured last month on the TV show, Ghost Adventures, giving the attraction even more attention.

“It’s become a huge draw for people all over the state of the Missouri, all over the country, and frankly all over the world,” Burns said.
            The Office of Administration has taken action to ensure that the legacy of the Missouri State Penitentiary continues. The Office of Administration spokesperson Misti Preston did not return KBIA’s phone call, but instead wrote in an e-mail:

“The Office of Administration will continue further discussions with the Visitors Convention Bureau as we move forward,” she wrote.

The Convention and Visitors Bureau, along with the state, will continue to have these discussions to make sure that the 2014 tours resume at an appropriate time.