A piece of Missouri history has been preserved in print by commercial and fine artist Michael Schlueter. Schlueter, who resides in rural Vandalia, has recently published his book, “America’s Bloodiest 47 Acres,” which is filled with photos capturing the great architectural structure along with other images of the now decommissioned Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City. His title came from Time magazine’s description of the facility, which once called it the “bloodiest 47 acres in America.”
This is Schlueter’s first book featuring his photographic images in a career that started 35 years ago.
“It feels great to see the project come to completion,” Schlueter said.
A native of Harvester, Mo. near St. Charles, Schlueter first picked up a camera to take pictures of cars he had worked on as an auto mechanic and this began a venture into a fulfilling career in freelance photography. Michael and his wife currently live on a small farm near Vandalia.
Schlueter, who has a familiar last name to the area, told the Leader that his family is not connected to the one living in town. He did acknowledge the possibility of a connection when going far enough back in history. His decision to move to the area dates back to 2002 when he and his wife were looking for a weekend getaway house and found their current home of the past six years near Mount Olive Church outside Vandalia. This home is close to one his parents had bought when he was a kid out of Wellsville. Schlueter first took a mail-order course from “The School of Modern Photography” and soon found himself working in commercial photography using a Hasselblad film camera. Michael gained interest in fine arts photography through the years. Between 2011 and 2017, Schlueter made several trips to explore and photograph the Missouri State Penitentiary, the oldest penitentiary west of the Mississippi river.
A collection of 86 photographs from these visits are showcased in a beautiful, hardcover 13×11 inch, 100-page coffee table style book, along with historical highlights and a foreword by former warden of MSP, Michael Groose.
For Missouri history and photography buffs, this book provides an inate perspective.
His fine art work focuses on the Missouri landscape; exploring light, color and the mysterious beauty of abandoned places.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Books are priced at $135 and can be purchased or ordered at https://www.schlueterphoto.com.