The Ohio Penitentiary

From the website of Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction

Built in 1834, the Ohio Penitentiary was actually the second Ohio Penitentiary, the third state prison, and the fourth jail in early Columbus. In April 1955 it housed an all-time high of 5,235 prisoners. Most prisoners were removed from the prison by 1972 with the completion of the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility, and the facility was closed in 1984. The state sold the Ohio Penitentiary to the City of Columbus in 1995.

Much debate has surrounded the future of the Ohio Penitentiary. When thoughts turned to demolishing the penitentiary, the preservationist community mounted a campaign to save at least five historic buildings on Spring Street. The City of Columbus is cooperating with preservationists on a federal review of these buildings. However, crews are scheduled to begin tearing down the remaining 15 buildings in March, 1997. Demolition is expected to take three to four months. In addition to the above-ground demolition work, the city must hire a contractor to remove or minimize underground contamination remaining from decades of industrial activity and coal-burning at the site. The 23-acre site, bounded by Maple, West and Spring Streets and Neil Avenue, was the proposed location of a soccer stadium of up to 35,000 seats. However, on May 6, 1997, Franklin County voters rejected a three-year sales tax increase which would have helped finance this project. The future of the Pen site remains unknown.

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