In September 1937, Governor Lloyd Crow Stark signed a
bill into law calling for execution by lethal gas. Prior to this
criminals in Missouri were executed by public hangings, conducted by the Sheriff in the county were the crime was committed.
The gas chamber was located at the Jefferson City
Correctional Center in a small rock building set apart from the main
prison. The chamber area was built in 1937 at a cost of $3,570 and
consisted of two small cells on one side of the room and the chamber on
the other side.
One cell housed the condemned for the last few hours
before execution. The second cell was used for mixing the sulfuric acid
that was used in the execution. The cell contained the crocks used to
hold sulfuric acid and later placed under the perforated chair. The
leather restraints that were used to hold the condemned in the chair
were also stored in the second cell.
In the center of the building was the air tight chamber
painted white, with two perforated steel chairs. Beneath the chairs
were guides to hold the three-gallon earthen jars which contained the
sulfuric acid into which the cyanide pellets were dropped when a lever
was pulled by the Warden.
After the execution the lethal gas was
extracted from the chamber and vented out a forty-five foot pipe
through the roof of the building. [More photos]