Renz Correctional Center was opened in 1961 as a high-security prison for female offenders. It was designed to hold about 500 prisoners and was known as Renz Farm because it was used to raise chicken and grow produce. Its most notable place in history pertains to the escape of James Earl Ray from the Missouri State Penitentiary just down the road. He managed to hide inside a delivery truck that was heading to Renz to deliver bread. At some point along the route, he got out and was on the run for about a year before ultimately performing the crime for which he was made famous. On April 4th, 1968, James Earl Ray assassinated Martin Luther King, Jr in Memphis Tennessee at the Lorraine Motel where King had booked a room.
In 1993, during the Great Flood of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, the overflowing river water was heading straight for the prison. The administration had planned for evacuation several times throughout the course of the year due to spring flooding and constant rain. On July 2nd, 1993, the evacuation of prisoners began and was completed successfully without incident within two days time. After the prisoners had been moved to another facility, the corrections staff returned in boats to salvage remaining equipment from the building and move other property up to the 2nd floor. They had every intention of returning once the waters receded. But the crest of the river continued to climb until reaching 38.6 feet, overtaking the 32 foot high levy that was designed to protect the facility. As the flood-waters finally receded, they left behind a 15 foot deep lake across the 15 acres of the property and they took the 9 foot tall security fence along with them. Inspectors discovered that the building was beyond repair and the decision was made to close the facility permanently.