Should the old Geelong gaol be recycled?
I really think that recycling old buildings in Geelong is a good idea, but the idea of the old Geelong gaol being made into housing,etc. ought to be a definite NO. The site has too many bad vibes. You go there, see the cells, walk inside one and close the door and the atmosphere is terrible. Surely you couldn't have accommodation for families in such a place no matter how much it is altered. I took a writing group there one day to write poems and we were shocked. It's open to the public as a 'tourist' or 'historical' place and my family were there recently and my grandson said, 'Grandma, you wouldn't like that place.' How true.
I think it could be bulldozed to the ground and a Peace Park be built there - partly in memory of all those men and women who have suffered incarceration over the years.
Okay, crimes need to be accounted for, but there surely are better ways to rehabilitate humans. Of course the modern gaols could be seen as very comfortable such as Barwon Prison and another one out on the Bacchus Marsh Road past Lara. More comfortable than some of the homes the men and women have come from. So what is the answer?
From the Geelong Advertiser:
City wants to unlock old prison's potential
Early plans canvassed include a reception centre, residential development and space for offices and a gallery, with development estimates at more than $10 million.
The investigation comes after the heritage-listed Old Castlemaine Gaol was sold by Mount Alexander Shire late last year to developers for $550,000.
Cr Tony Ansett said Geelong's former maximum-security prison was under-used and a lot of it remained untouched, including substantial carpark space.
"The gaol is one of the most under-utilised sites in town that we've got," he told the Geelong Advertiser.
"I am keen to see it better utilised, but am also aware that it's getting some use in the community already.
"I would like to ensure they can still access the site."
Rotary operates the gaol and has restricted opening hours on weekends and some public holidays for tours of the facility.
Cr Ansett, the council's heritage spokesman, said any development would have to retain the site's heritage aspects, which are listed as having state significance.
While the council will seek public comment on possible future options for the prison, Cr Ansett floated the idea of converting the former cells into accommodation.
The four-storey gaol, which opened in 1864 and shut down in 1991, stands mostly unchanged from its time when it detained criminals in extreme conditions.
Men were hanged there for their crimes, including in 1863 police murderer James Murphy, who features in a current gallows exhibition.
The Pentonville-style facility has attracted the attention of paranormal researchers due to graphic accounts of bodies swinging from the hangman's noose and other so-called ghostly encounters.
The council assumed ownership of the site after it was decommissioned as a prison.
The Geelong Advertiser reported in 2007 that the council had identified the need for substantial investment to repair rotten timber and joinery in the gaol.
Old Geelong Gaol: 1853-1991
* Gaol for convicts and prisoners
* An Industrial school for girls
* Army detention barracks during World War II
* Hospital gaol
* Training prison