Non-Profit Group Looking To Save Fort Madison Prison

FORT MADISON, Iowa (AP) — A nonprofit is trying to save the empty Fort Madison penitentiary that dates to the 1830s as questions loom about what to do with the sprawling complex.

The Des Moines Register ( ) reports that Historic Iowa State Penitentiary is trying to save the prison that for many was only a place of misery but has played a key role in the state’s history. The group is thinking of turning it into a museum and tourist attraction as they’ve done with prisons in other states.

The nonprofit’s first step in its preservation is an environmental assessment that costs up to $180,000 to decide what buildings could be used for a historical attraction, education and even small business opportunities.

The group has asked the state to fund it, but Iowa State Penitentiary warden Patti Wachtendorf says the money isn’t available.