From the Richmond Dispatch, 2/10/1888
THE LIBBY PRISON REMOVAL.
Money Not Yet Raised to Pay for It and Take It Away.
The Chicago Times
which was received here yesterday has the following:
Incorporation papers were taken out at Springfield
yesterday for the joint-stock company which has in view the bringing of the old
Libby Prison from Richmond, Va., to Chicago. W. H. Gray received a letter from
Rawlings & Rose, real estate agents, through whom he secured the option for
purchase, running to February 28th, for $23,300, stating that the
entire building could be had at that price, or the original 44x92 feet for
$8,000, as stipulated, for cash, or on payment of $10,000 down for the whole,
deferred payments to draw 6 per cent interest. Mr. Gray will go to Richmond in a
few days to perfect his title, provided enough stock is taken to warrant him in
consummating the deal. Meanwhile, if the Richmond people should conclude that
they do not wish to have this old war-relic removed, and should offer him a
handsome bonus to give up his option, it is possible he might sell out and let
the South keep her own. He has gone into the deal for the money there is in it,
and if the “solid South” can pay down more than Chicago promises to pay in
the near future he will surrender.
If the building comes to Chicago Mr. Gray says it will be
through a square deal, with no stock-jobbing annexes. If he goes into it he goes
in to stay. He thinks northern sentiment is not averse to the transfer of the
building, and that southern sentiment certainly should not be, as the effect of
the exhibition of the structure will be to show that Union prisoners were
provided with pretty decent quarters after all. They were huddled together,
didn’t have hair mattresses, and occasionally worms were thoughtlessly skimmed
from their soup when there was more nourishment in the worm than in the soup. In
1863 the entire South was half naked and living on short rations, and captives
could scarcely expect to live better than their captors. Brutal commandants
there might have been, and doubtless were.
If the proposed scheme is carried out there will be a
gallery for the display of photographs of properly identified prisoners and
guards, both sides being thus given a fair representation. The proposition to
have the transferred building annexed to the Exposition building, occupying the
space now accorded to the conservatory, is not generally popular, most of those
who believe the Libby prison is worth bringing thinking it will stand on its own
merits – provided it can be given a good place to stand on.
A dispatch to the Times
from Richmond says that the old Libby Prison is a long three-story red brick
building, fronting on Dock and Cary streets. It is a plain, unpretentious
structure, and but for its associations and history would not attract attention
from the most observant. It was built in 1845 for a tobacco-factory, and was
used for that purpose until taken by the Confederate authorities early in the
war for a military prison. The house is in a good state of preservation, and
will easily bear tearing down and removal. The present owners, it is understood,
have reserved the right to remain in possession until July 1st next.
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