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Historic Government Sites & Missouri’s State Penitentiary

History buffs will be glad they took a day to spend at the Missouri State Penitentiary. This is one of the Midwest’s top tourist destinations and the number of famous former inmates of the penitentiary alone is amazing. From James Earl Ray and heavyweight champion boxer Sonny Liston to Emma Goldman, this historic site is a must-see. It’s also where the first execution by lethal injection was administered.

Head to downtown Jefferson City and go see for yourself where every governor in Missouri has been living since 1871. Take a guided tour of the Missouri Governor’s mansion’s and marvel at the Renaissance Revival-style architecture and its signature staircase.

While you’re in downtown Jefferson City, stop at the Missouri State Capital for a peek at Classical Revival-style architecture, a dome that reaches as high as 238 feet, and a bronze statue of Thomas Jefferson.

Be sure to also carve out time for the historic Old Courthouse near the Gateway Arch in downtown St. Louis.

Missouri Governor's Mansion

Set on a bluff near the banks of the Missouri River, the Missouri Governor’s Mansion is located in downtown Jefferson City, Missouri.

Serving as the home of every Missouri governor since 1871, the eastern Missouri mansion is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Restored to maintain its Renaissance Revival appearance, the building features striking architecture – most notably its walnut Grand Staircase.

Visitors to the historic household are invited in for guided tours, however 24-hour advance reservations are required.

Missouri State Capitol

Set on the banks of the Missouri River, the Missouri State Capital is located in downtown Jefferson City, Missouri.

Built in 1917, the eastern Missouri building is one of the newest to feature Classical Revival-style architecture – complete with a dome stretching 238 feet high.

Open to the public for guided tours, the Capitol houses the offices of the Governor, the Secretary of State, and more.

A statue of Thomas Jefferson, along with several other bronze figures throughout the complex’s immense lawn, greets visitors to the Capitol.

Missouri State Penitentiary

Housing over 5,200 inmates at its peak, the Missouri State Penitentiary is located near the banks of the Missouri River in Jefferson City, Missouri.

Once the largest prison in the country, the eastern Missouri facility was operational from 1836 to 2004.

Today, two-hour, private tours of the prison are popular – but the three-hour nighttime ghost hunts attract even more attention.

Tour guides provide visitors with “activity finding” devices after filling them in on the history of paranormal activity in Housing Unit 1.

Old Courthouse St. Louis

Originally built in 1864, the Old Courthouse, otherwise known as the Old St. Louis County Courthouse, is a U.S. Historic Landmark and part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.

The courthouse is set in downtown St. Louis near the Gateway Arch. This St. Louis Landmark is available for tours, free of admission, and open daily, except on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

After your tour, enjoy other nearby eastern Missouri landmarks like Old Cathedral Museum, Kiener Plaza, and Museum of Westward Expansion.