The Senate on Monday voted unanimously to approve legislation that enables conversion of the Nevada State Prison into a museum and tourist attraction.
Assembly Bill 356, which also passed the Assembly unanimously, goes to Gov. Brian Sandoval for his signature.
The prison opened in 1862, two years before Nevada became a state. It was shuttered a year ago except for the license plate factory and the state’s death chamber.
Sponsor Assemblyman Pete Livermore, R-Carson City, said the idea is to give the prison-preservation group two years to design a plan to preserve the prison, potentially making it a museum, an archaeological dig, a movie set or even a bed-and-breakfast.
Former Director of Corrections Glen Whorton said the oldest standing part of the prison is about 100 years old and that the entire site has historic value. Not only is it an excellent site for Hollywood films, he said, but there have been significant geologic and fossil discoveries on the property including giant sloth footprints.
The prison’s history include the first execution using poison gas. It is also the only prison ever to have an inmate-operated casino; it wasn’t shut down until the late 1960s.
The biggest obstacles to converting and preserving the prison are disability access and safety.