Gratiot Street Prison Then and Now

Then & Now

Gratiot Street Prison

Picture of Gratiot Street Prison in the 1860s from “Story of a Border City During the Civil War” by Galusha Anderson, published 1908

8th & Gratiot

Site of Gratiot Street Prison today–a parking lot of the headquarters of Ralston Purina Company

The building that became Gratiot Street Prison originally housed McDowell Medical College, owned and operated by Joseph Nash McDowell. The wing north of the tower housed the college, the wing to the south was McDowell’s home.

McDowell's College 1848

This 1848 illustration of McDowells College shows the unfinished building and tower lacking the distinctive dome

Ralston Purina

Ralston Purina’s history on the site of the former Gratiot Street Prison begins well after the building had been demolished.

An article in “Square Talk,” an in-house publication for Ralston Purina employees, from May 1995, discusses the history of the site. Gene McCoskey, Manager of Contract Services and Security, is quoted in the article as saying, “Whenever the grounds crew does any type of digging on the property near the Administration Building, they always come back and mention all the rubble they find after going into the ground just a short distance…I think they are finding rubble of the old prison.”

Ralston Purina has some history of their time at the site on their website.

Ralston Purina Company Historic Information