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The Workhouse
The Workhouse
TitleThe Workhouse
DescriptionPostcard of the Workhouse Prison
Historical ArticleTo quote a 1907 writer of the Kansas City Journal-Post, The present workhouse building is one of the sights of the city. It is castellated in design of undressed stone.

The sturdy castle-like prison building, built before the turn of the century at 2001 Vine Street (and visible today from the Paseo), was intended for violators of municipal ordinances.

The long wing of the structure (at the left side of the picture) contained the cells of prisoners. Still visible today is a platform where an armed guard sat at duty.

From 1872 until 1911 the city workhouse was a cherished institution of political patronage. The management and practices were usually under severe criticism.

A 1909 report of the Board of Pardons and Paroles listed grievances to Mayor T.C Crittenden, Jr. of overcrowding, frequent escapes, unclean bedding vermin, lack of medical attention, poor food, habitual gambling, prisoners kept in cells in idleness, and intoxicating liquors and drugs available to prisoners during confinement.

After the publication of the report the superintendent and most of the staff resigned or were fired.

Warden McCloughry, head of the federal prison at Leavenworth, was called for consultation. On his advice 115 acres of land southeast of Leeds with running water, two gas wells and four oil wells were immediately purchased for $39,000 on which to build a new workhouse and farm.

George Kessler of the park assisted in laying off the grounds at Leeds so that horticulture, vegetable gardening, quarrying and stonecutting could by taught to the men prisoners.

Underbrush was cleared and barracks build by the prisoners and the permanent move to new farm quarters made June 23, 1911. Only the women prisoners remained in the old building.

Through the years the old workhouse served the city in different capacities. Today the remodeled building is occupied by the sewer maintenance offices.

Dungeons in a basement that once housed tough law-violators are now neatly painted storage areas for extra supplies.

Kansas City Star
July 12, 1969

AuthorRay, Mrs. Sam (Mildred)
Item TypePostcard
CollectionMrs. Sam Ray Postcard Collection (SC58)
See finding aid: http://localhistory.kclibrary.org/u?/Local,36981
Local SubjectBuildings
Digital FormatJPEG
RepositoryMissouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Missouri
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