From the Richmond Dispatch, 2/10/1888

Money Not Yet Raised to Pay for It and Take It Away.

The Chicago Times which was received here yesterday has the following:

Incorporation papers were taken out at Springfield yesterday for the joint-stock company which has in view the bringing of the old Libby Prison from Richmond, Va., to Chicago. W. H. Gray received a letter from Rawlings & Rose, real estate agents, through whom he secured the option for purchase, running to February 28th, for $23,300, stating that the entire building could be had at that price, or the original 44x92 feet for $8,000, as stipulated, for cash, or on payment of $10,000 down for the whole, deferred payments to draw 6 per cent interest. Mr. Gray will go to Richmond in a few days to perfect his title, provided enough stock is taken to warrant him in consummating the deal. Meanwhile, if the Richmond people should conclude that they do not wish to have this old war-relic removed, and should offer him a handsome bonus to give up his option, it is possible he might sell out and let the South keep her own. He has gone into the deal for the money there is in it, and if the “solid South” can pay down more than Chicago promises to pay in the near future he will surrender.

If the building comes to Chicago Mr. Gray says it will be through a square deal, with no stock-jobbing annexes. If he goes into it he goes in to stay. He thinks northern sentiment is not averse to the transfer of the building, and that southern sentiment certainly should not be, as the effect of the exhibition of the structure will be to show that Union prisoners were provided with pretty decent quarters after all. They were huddled together, didn’t have hair mattresses, and occasionally worms were thoughtlessly skimmed from their soup when there was more nourishment in the worm than in the soup. In 1863 the entire South was half naked and living on short rations, and captives could scarcely expect to live better than their captors. Brutal commandants there might have been, and doubtless were.

If the proposed scheme is carried out there will be a gallery for the display of photographs of properly identified prisoners and guards, both sides being thus given a fair representation. The proposition to have the transferred building annexed to the Exposition building, occupying the space now accorded to the conservatory, is not generally popular, most of those who believe the Libby prison is worth bringing thinking it will stand on its own merits – provided it can be given a good place to stand on.

A dispatch to the Times from Richmond says that the old Libby Prison is a long three-story red brick building, fronting on Dock and Cary streets. It is a plain, unpretentious structure, and but for its associations and history would not attract attention from the most observant. It was built in 1845 for a tobacco-factory, and was used for that purpose until taken by the Confederate authorities early in the war for a military prison. The house is in a good state of preservation, and will easily bear tearing down and removal. The present owners, it is understood, have reserved the right to remain in possession until July 1st next.

Page last updated on 07/24/2009