Roseville Prison was sold for $89,500. The new owner plans to renovate the wardens houses and use the rest of the ground to park flatbed trucks.
Copy of the article in Sunday's Dispatch below.
Muskingum County auctions abandoned Roseville State Prison for $89,500
Sunday, June 24, 2007 3:47 AM
By Dana Wilson
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
As visitors peer down hallways, rusted gates open into empty corridors at the Roseville State Prison. The prison and its grounds were sold yesterday.
ROSEVILLE, Ohio -- Only a few people brought their checkbooks to this auction intending to actually use them.
The rest gathered at the abandoned Roseville State Prison yesterday mostly to snoop and reminisce before it was sold to the highest bidder.
"We're just hopeful that someone will buy it and do something productive with it," said Bill Barker, who owns the local grocery store. He recalled playing baseball in the prison yard in the early 1950s on a field now overtaken by weeds.
"They'd have the Little League ballgames here," Barker said. "The prisoners did the umpiring, and they'd always have lemonade to drink."
The 27-acre compound hasn't housed convicts since 1966, when the state shuttered the prison and gave the site to Muskingum County. The Board of Commissioners recently decided it was time to sell the historic, unused property, now viewed as an eyesore by some in this village located about 65 miles southeast of Columbus.
Historians say it's unclear exactly when the prison opened, but several retaining-wall bricks stamped with the words "convict made" bear the date 1928.
"You're buying this property as is," auctioneer Tom Davy told the crowd of about 40 people standing outside the chain-link entrance gate. "You're buying the whole property. …You can do whatever you want, however you want to do it."
Since its closing, the prison grounds -- complete with four old brick buildings and guard towers -- have doubled as a haunted house, a paintball venue, a used-tire storehouse and at least one manufacturing operation.
The bidding opened at $25,000 and ended at $89,500 roughly 45 minutes later. Linda Gebhart of South Zanesville walked away with the prison still feeling a little overwhelmed.
"I'm scared to death," she joked. "One way or another we were going home with this property."
With her family's help, she plans to refurbish the two old houses that formerly housed the prison wardens and use the surrounding grounds to park flatbed trucks for an Illinois-based trucking company.
Gebhart also envisions turning the ground floor of one of the red-brick prison buildings into a restaurant. "We've got a lot of possibilities," Gebhart said. "It's going to take a lot of hard work."
Roseville resident Betty Koehler observed the auction with interest.
"I hope she cleans it up," Koehler said.
"I'm going to keep watching to see," said Mary Spring, another curious onlooker. "I just can't believe she paid that much for it."
Muskingum County Commissioner John Bates said the auction was a success. The property had been appraised at $100,000.
Bates' board must approve Gebhart's bid on Monday for the sale to be considered official.
"This'll probably be a once-in-a-lifetime deal," Bates said.