Historic Nevada State Prison in Carson City needs $50,000 in work to open at museum
To make a donation, please send a check or money order to the Nevada State Prison Preservation Society at PO Box 1991, Carson City, NV 89701.
The historic Nevada State Prison needs roughly $50,000 in work to open its doors as a museum.
Glen Whorton, president, Nevada State Prison Preservation Society, said the society has already spent about $30,000 on the site, including making one bathroom handicap-accessible. A needed ADA-compliant ramp, asbestos removal, lighting, and a hook-up to electricity, he estimated, could be completed for approximately $50,000.
The Carson City Chamber of Commerce in 2014 donated a generator to the society and has championed the prison as a potential tourism draw.
“The chamber has been a part of the planning to open the Nevada State Prison to locals and visitors since former Assemblyman Pete Livermore convened a committee to begin the process by introducing a bill in 2013 to preserve the historic prison,” said Ronni Hannaman, executive director. “NSP is part of the unique history of Carson City and the state of Nevada and should be shared. The economic impact of this prison museum could be substantial.”
Whorton and the chamber hosted a tour of the facility Tuesday for about a dozen people interested in the prison’s revival.
“Adding a Nevada State Prison tour for future Carson City visitors will provide a unique look back at our rich history and that of the state’s. What a great addition this would be for Carson City visitors to enhance their experience through the many stories only the prison can tell,” said David Peterson, executive director, Carson City Culture & Tourism Authority.
The prison pre-dates Nevada statehood and was in operation for 150 years, from 1862 to 2012.
Whorton, who ended his 32-year tenure with the Nevada Department of Corrections as the department’s director, said the prison is wrapped up in Nevada history. Two Nevada governors, for example, were also prison wardens. Frank Bell, Nevada governor in 1890 and 1891, served as warden from 1883 to 1887, and Denver Dickerson, served as governor from 1908 to 1911 and became the warden after that, from 1923 to his death in 1925.
The tour included a look inside cell blocks for both men and women, the cafeteria where the last menu is still displayed on a board, and the execution chamber where a total of 52 executions were conducted, the last by lethal injection in 2006.
Another room showed off art work by inmates, including a running wall mural above the doorways painted by Rodney Halbower, the “Gypsy Hills Killer” who was believed to have raped and killed six women and girls, including 17-year-old Michelle Mitchell in Reno in 1976.
For more on the society and the prison’s history, visit http://www.nevadastateprison.org.