From the Richmond Dispatch, 6/1/1889, p. 1


Fears That the Prison Show May Lose Them Trade.

The following is from a Chicago special in the New York Herald:

The fear has been expressed by many that the location of the old Libby Prison here will prove a disaster to Chicago in a business way, as it will rob her of all her trade with the South, which is considerable. It is agreed by all that the scheme of bringing the old bastille here is a money-making one entirely and not intended for political effect at all, but this doesn’t help the matter any. Its presence will doubtless be offensive to those who profess any sentiment whatever, though the curiosity to see the historic building wherein so many brave sons of the North died may serve to make the scheme a paying one.

Already the war is being fought over again in the streets of Chicago, and the man with maps of Andersonville and border illustrations representing the horrors of that awful place abounds in the streets. Pictures of Libby Prison are seen everywhere, and relics of the war are displayed in all the windows. Down on Wabash avenue between Fourteenth and Sixteenth streets a grim front is being reared, and behind this soon will rise the drear walls of Libby’s old tobacco warehouse, made infamous during the great civil conflict.


Just north of the new site selected for old Libby is a church; directly opposite is a school-house, and the hundred of youngsters, as they pour out at recess or noontime, stop to watch the ghastly relic of bygone days as it steadily ascends. Libby is to be made picturesque and attractive by its Chicago managers, and its horrors will be in a measure mitigated by its surroundings.

The front wall, which is being built along Wabash avenue, is of petroleum stone and twenty feet high. The petroleum-stone has a mottled appearance and is more commonly known as black Artesian well stone. It is quarried at some depth, and when put into a well presents a very solid and imposing front. This wall runs for a distance of 280 feet along Wabash avenue and is turreted at the north and south ends. At about the center it is pierced by a heavy archway and the whole effect is medieval. This twenty-foot wall surrounds the entire space devoted to the prison, but on the north and south and the alley-sides it is of brick.


Within the enclosure thus created will stand the prison, with every brick and timber in proper place. As the process of demolition goes on in Richmond the fragments are marked carefully and loaded into cars standing on the track at the side of the structure. When these cars arrive here their contents are deposited in marked places in the yard so the masons, bricklayers, and carpenters can lay their hands upon them when needed. The few bricks and timbers lost in the wreck near Maysville, Ky., will not be missed. They belonged to the roof and upper stories and can be easily replaced. The prison is practically five stories below the eaves. When set in position the roof only will show above the wall surrounding it. The dimensions of the prison are 170x120 feet.


A careful watch is to be kept on the building for fear it may be blown up by some hot-headed person who doesn’t approve of the scheme and who could do irreparable damage by the insertion of a stick of dynamite somewhere between the bricks. Threats have been freely indulged in that the opening of the exhibition would be prevented at all hazards, even if it was found necessary to ruin it entirely. The directors firmly believe the freight wreck near Maysville, Ky., was not purely an accident, and, in fact, are rather surprised that something hasn’t happened at Richmond ere this.

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