|Libby Prison, Richmond, Virginia|
In 1864, the Confederacy moved Union prisoners to Macon, Georgia. The Confederate Army then used the prison for military criminals. After the occupation of Richmond in 1865, Union authorities used the prison for the detention of former Confederate officers. They reportedly improved conditions over those for Union officers or prisoners of war on both sides generally during the war. In 1880, the building was purchased by Southern Fertilizer Company.
|Libby Prison, Richmond, Virginia|
In the meanwhile massive stone walls of native artesian stone, quarried within the city limits of Chicago, had been erected on the block of Wabash Avenue, between 14th and 16th Streets, which had been selected as the famous old prison's new home. These stones formed part of the wall of the third Chicago Coliseum (1513 S. Wabash, Chicago, Illinois) and probably are the basis for the false story that that structure is built from Libby Prison remains.
The enterprise was incorporated as the Libby Prison Museum Association, "Great Libby Prison War Museum", on February 4, 1888, with a capitalization of $400,000, to which was added the extensive Civil War collection of Charles F. Gunther, a wealthy candy manufacturer. Among his items are reportedly the Lincoln death bed and various bloodied garments worn the night of Lincoln's assassination. The cost of dismantling and moving was in excess of $200,000 and was completed in September of 1889.
Although the Museum was in Chicago during the year of the Chicago World's Fair (the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition), it had no connection with the Fair and was never considered as a Fair attraction. It was quite some distance from the Exposition Grounds. At its height of popularity in the early 1890s, the museum hosted Civil War tours run by ex-civil war veterans. The Museum was highly profitable and continued so until 1897. When the second Chicago Coliseum burned down in December of 1897, Gunther decided to build a new Coliseum on the site of the Libby Prison, since attendance at the museum was beginning to wane. The museum was disbanded and the third Chicago Coliseum (on Wabash Avenue, between 14th and 16th Streets) was erected on the site.
Many of the bricks were disposed of as souvenirs and given to builders. A large number went to the Chicago Historical Society, along with the collection and other parts of the building. The Chicago Historical Society constructed the north wall of their Civil War Room from these bricks. This building is located at North Avenue and Clark St., Chicago, and is currently known as the Chicago History Museum.
|The third Chicago Coliseum, on Wabash Avenue between 14th and 16th Streets, was erected on the site.|
With the exception of the above-mentioned relics, all that is known to remain of the old prison are a door and keys in the Confederate Museum in Richmond, Virginia; some miscellaneous items in several institutions in Vermont and Massachusetts; and its major records in the National Archives in Washington D.C., with some minor records in Vermont. The Chicago Coliseum was demolished in 1983.
Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.
 Charles F. Gunther (1837-1920) - As a young man, Charles came to America from Germany and began to make his own candy that he sold in a little wooden stall in Chicago. He started his own candy company "Gunther's Confectionery" but the store at 125 South Clark Street was destroyed in the Chicago Fire in 1871. He quickly recovered and built the "Gunther's Candies Company" factory with stores at 212 State Street, 78 Madison Street, and another retail store on Wabash Street. He claimed to have introduced caramel confectionery to America. Gunther served two terms (1896-1900) as a Chicago alderman and one term (1901-1903) as city treasurer. In 1908, Gunther sought the (regular) Democratic Party's nomination as an Illinois gubernatorial candidate but lost to Adlai E. Stevenson.
 On December 24, 1897, around 6:00 PM, during the Manufacturers' Carnival and Winter Fair a fire broke out and swept through the second Chicago Coliseum building (63rd Street & Stony Island Avenue). The building was completely destroyed, primarily when one of the 14 arches supporting the roof fell over to bring down all the other arches like a row of dominoes. The fire consumed the building within twenty minutes. This massive structure, one of the greatest indoor facilities of the nineteenth century, had a lifespan of only 19 months.