Hello visitors,

I have some exciting news!. As of October I have purchased my own domain name for this site, and have transferred everything over to it. The decision to do so was primarily decided by frustrations with not being able to manage the site how I needed to, and the solution was to get the new domain and install the open-source version of wordpress’s software, which I am very happy with. My hope is that the new site will make it much easier for visitors to access my research into the workhouse in a variety of ways, and hopefully allow me to update it more frequently.

I will be leaving this site up for awhile to direct visitors over to the new one but have removed all articles, photos, etc. I would appreciate you updating your bookmarks and rss feeds!

Welcome to the new!


27 comments on “Introduction

  1. sherrie says:

    I have driven by this building for years and always have been curious and fasinated with it. But have never been able to find any information on its history until now. Knowing alittle about it makes me want to know more. I read it was built by prisoners and was a prison with a dungeon in the basement at one time. If only you could look inside. Thank you for sharing

  2. photokaty says:

    Me too, which is why I decided to create this blog about it! It is really hard to find accurate information about it, but I think I’ve been able to piece together its story fairly well. It was indeed built by the prisoners in 1896-1897, the site it is on used to be a quarry, so all the stone for it was mined on site by the prisoners. By building it this way, the costs were kept low, and the city decided that the building could look like a castle because it wouldn’t cost them any more money to do so. There was some sort of solitary confinement cell in the basement for unruly prisoners, but from what I can tell it was by no means a dungeon, I think they just liked calling it that because of the castle theme. The prisoners were mostly just short term inmates, who committed crimes such as being drunk in public, petty theft, etc, interred there in the hope that hard work would reform them into better citizens, so security was low.

    Since the building has been abandoned, it’s pretty easy to get in if you want to take a look around. The side door on the north side will let you into the main cell block for the male prisoners, and there’s a staircase and door in the ‘hook’ part of the L shape in the back that will allow you into the main story of the building. There’s a lot of trash, so wear good shoes, and don’t go in the towers and in the dining hall area on the south side, the towers are really dangerous, and the dining hall is very difficult to get into. While law enforcement hasn’t ever confronted me or anything about being in there, I am not responsible for anything that may happen to you while there.

    Thanks for your interest!

  3. Adam Hanly says:

    I drove by this building today, was super curious what it was, and my buddy found your site. Thanks for doing the research. I’m gonna stop by and take some sweet photos of this place. :)

  4. photokaty says:

    No problem, glad you enjoyed the building as much as I do! Send me the photos if you take some, I’ll put them up in the photo section!

  5. Brady says:

    Is the building still owned by the government? I am in graduate school for architecture and I am very interested in this building. Is it for sale?

  6. photokaty says:

    It’s currently owned by a real estate company out of New York, from what I can tell. I’ve talked to a couple people that were interested in trying to buy it, but unfortunately it seems that the current owner isn’t interested in selling at the moment, even though they were stopped from doing what they wanted with it (tear it down to build condos or something like that) by the historical landmarks restrictions passed on it.

    This is who owns it:

    Ephren Taylor
    ECC Vine St Real Estate Acquisitions LLC

  7. Margaret says:

    Thank God they were stopped from tearing it down. I’ve loved this building for years. First learned that it housed Black inmates way back when doing research at the Black Archives about 20-25 years ago.

  8. photokaty says:

    Yeah, I’m glad too! I just hope that eventually someone will be able to buy it and do something interesting with it. I’ve been meaning to go down to the Black Archives myself to do some research, I’m happy to hear that there is some information there. I’ve found a bunch more articles lately on the building, just need to find some time to get them typed up and posted.

  9. Mike says:

    Katy, I’m impressed by your blog and all your efforts about the Workhouse, aka the Castle. This property is owned by ECC Vine St Real Estate Acquisitions LLC, which is a subsidiary of Lucian Develoment in Rochester N.Y.
    Lucian Development is interested in selling this property or developing a joint venture. Please let me know about the people that were or are interested in buying it.

  10. Tiff says:

    I see that the development company responsible for this building is interested in doing something with the property. Can you Please pass my e-mail to them.

    Thank You

  11. Mike Walsh says:

    Thanks again for your blog efforts about the ‘Castle’.
    How can I get Tiff’s email address as she requested?

  12. photokaty says:

    Hey Mike,
    I tried to send her your email, but it doesn’t seem like her email works… maybe you’ll have better luck, it’s

  13. Paul Walsh Jr says:

    Hi mike my names Paul I was wondering if you could tell me the price and more about the company that owns it. Please e-mail me at Thanks

  14. I blogged about this building just yesterday and today someone commented, leaving me a link to your blog. Its mystery has been solved! Thanks for making this information available.

    To read my adventure inside this gorgeous piece of architecture:

  15. Mike Walsh says:

    Thanks, I’ll try it

  16. Mike Walsh says:

    Email address didn’t work for me either!

    Tiff – trying to contact you!

  17. amazing! If this is a historical site, why isn’t the KCMO city doing anything about it?
    They’ve spent so much money on renovating more “recent” buildings (circa 1920’s) in the downtown area. I can see why this would not work as a upscale loft though, ;)

  18. linda king says:

    I love this castle and the idea that because it was for folks who did not fit the “elite” sterotypical of the times, someone had the foresight to build a beautiful city building to thumb their noses at the in crowd. I would love to restore this building. What a dream that would fill for me! A treasure for the city and its citizens, all of them! It is also listed on the website Castles of America with a great history portion on it.

  19. Can the building be purchased for rehab?? I only learned of its existance today, via email from my hubby who happened upon it by chance while driving around on Monday. We’re architectural history buffs!

  20. Katy, do you know if the building can be purchased? The one across the street also looks amazing!! What treasures!

  21. Thank you so much for all of the information!!! You’ve been so helpful!

  22. Mike Walsh says:

    Dear Katy and Melissa (Green Mommy).
    In response to Melissa’s question “do you know if the building can be purchased?”, the answer is Yes. I work for Lucian Development which owns the property and would like to sell, especially to a good cause.

    If anyone has a serious interest, please contact me through Katy’s wonderful blog.
    Mike Walsh

  23. To Mike Walsh:

    My company is very interested in purchasing this property and restoring it. If it is still up for sale, please contact me immediately.

  24. Mike Walsh says:

    Be glad to contact you. Need to figure out how!
    Mike Walsh

  25. To Mike Walsh:


    Thank you for your quick reply.

    Warm regards, Rebecca Brown

  26. To Mike Walsh:


    Thank you for your quick reply.

    Warm regards, Rebecca Brown

  27. Pat Holland says:

    We need more people like you in this world that are willing to do things not just for the sake of money but for the greater good. Pls forward my contact info to Mike Walsh. We are interested in purchasing this unique property. It would be great to reserve this historical site and beautify it — Castle of the MidWest. We would appreciate to get in touch with Mr. Walsh. We can be reached at
    Thank you.
    Pat Holland

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