Training guards, museum proposed for old state prison in Carson City

Training prison guards from various states could raise money to fund a museum and the training facility at Nevada’s old state prison, Carson City’s Planning Committee was told Wednesday.

The idea was floated in a verbal report to the commission by Susan Dorr Pansky, city planning manager, and Michael Drews, member of the city’s Historic Resources Commission, both of whom also serve on the Nevada State Prison Steering Committee. The prison is closed, for the most part, and the Nevada Legislature passed a bill that basically invites the steering committee to provide ideas on possible historic and related use.

“The museum concept is way up on top,” Drews said of possible uses proposed in a written report being made public today through the city’s Community Development Department and planning division. It can be seen there or accessed online, according to the planning manager. It also will be reviewed in a public hearing by the Historic Resources Commission at 5:30 p.m. May 8 in the Community Center’s Sierra Room.

Eventually it is expected to move on to the city’s Board of Supervisors and to the 2015 Nevada Legislature.

“I think there’s lots of potential as a museum,” said Drews. He said, however, that museums generally aren’t adept at self-funding. Another idea for eventual use, along with guard training, is a historic bed-and-breakfast.

Nevada still operates the license-making facility on prison grounds, though that is being moved to Las Vegas when a new facility is done. The gas chamber also is still at the prison and is part of what currently blocks public use for other purposes, with the license-making and gas chamber prompting Drews to say the prison “isn’t completely mothballed” yet by the state’s Department of Corrections.

“There’s lots of opportunities,” said Drews, “but there are lots of challenges right now.”

The steering committee, for example, also wants the prison nominated to be on the National Register of Historic Places.

After hearing the proposals, Commissioner Walt Owens suggested rooms should be set aside for people who want to stay overnight in a former prison.


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