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Posted: 8/23/2004 1:14:27 PM EST
August 23, 2004

Old Leavenworth prison to be demolished

By Jim Tice
Times staff writer

The stone and steel colossus that has been the symbol of U.S. military justice for 127 years is coming down in a cloud of dust and broken rock at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. Demolition began Aug. 16 on the Civil War era confinement facility commonly called the “Castle.”
And despite its history, attempts to keep it standing failed.



“A reuse study was done for the Castle, but none of the options proved feasible and all were very costly,” said Leavenworth public affairs officer Janet Wray.

Those options included converting the structure to a conference center, records storage facility or urban training center.

Some of the other buildings within the 1877 prison complex will remain, including the distinctive rock walls and guard towers, according to Wray. “The entire area is part of the Fort Leavenworth Historic Landmark district,” she said.

The prison’s inmate population was dispersed to other military facilities two years ago. The most serious offenders now are housed across post at the $69 million sate-of-the-art U.S. Disciplinary Barracks. That opened in 2002, and was accredited by the American Correctional Association in May 2003. The facility is located on a 51-acre plot of hills and woods that previously was the old prison’s farm area.



With a population of more than 400, the USDB is the military’s largest prison. It houses murderers and other felons with sentences of seven or more years.

The general inmate population is housed in three cell complexes called “bow ties,” each consisting of two two-tier cellblocks, and a common area with chairs, televisions and pay phones.

Death-row inmates and maximum security prisoners are segregated form the rest of the inmate population.
Link Posted: 8/23/2004 2:24:54 PM EST
Link Posted: 8/23/2004 5:24:18 PM EST
so much for preserving historic buildings. ya know if they can turn alkatraz (sp?) into a tourist trap they can do the same for Leavenworth
Link Posted: 8/23/2004 5:35:24 PM EST
It is very difficult to maintain that sort of structure. Unless it has a frame of reinforced concrete, those are all load-bearing walls. Load bearing walls, build in a part of the country with severe annual temp swings will slowly break down. The brick will crack, the morter will crumble. A l-b wall has to support not only its weight, but the weight of the roof.

I hate to see it coming down, but if it is crumbling, there isn't a dang thing to do but demolish it. Otherwise you have a dangerous structure that will only get weaker and uglier.
Link Posted: 8/23/2004 5:54:10 PM EST
It is already in the process of being demolished. New digs for Uncle Sam's criminal MOS's was built and opened last spring (03). Too bad, it was a really cool part of the facilities at Ft Leavenworth.
Link Posted: 8/23/2004 7:06:13 PM EST
I used to get my hair cut there by the inmates in the barber program. They were the best barbers around and it only cost $1.25 in 1989.

The granite stones in the primeter walls are freakin huge, probably 3'x4' on the exposed side and I don't know how thick. That place was awesome. Built with good old inmate sweat and blood.
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