THE Friends of J Ward will open a time capsule on April 21, Easter Sunday, which founding member Ron Roberts said symbolises the group's success.
The time capsule was sealed on Easter Sunday in 1994 after a frenzied opening year which attracted about 14,000 visitors.
Mr Roberts said the time capsule was a testament to the group's vision after the tourism industry continued to express doubt about the viability of the prison as a tourist destination.
"After one year we had someone from Victorian Tourism ... who kept saying 'it's a pie in the sky dream. Nobody wants to look at an old asylum'," he said.
"After eight months we'd had 14,000 people through. They said it still wouldn't work. I said 'We've pulled off 14,000 in eight months, with no backing at all. I bet you we're still here in 25 years.'
"So we decided to put a plaque down and open it in 25 years and show them. I'll tell you, not one of those people who worked in Victorian Tourism then is there now, but J Ward still is."
Now the buildings see about 1000 visitors pass through them each month.
The group initially opened the building to the public for one Easter weekend in 1993 following several meetings with local and state government.
At the time there were no clear plans to open it permanently, but an article in The Ararat Advertiser dated April 8, 1993 read:
'Friends of J Ward is hopeful the Easter holiday break will be only the beginning of a major ongoing tourism attraction for Ararat.'
"It started a whirlwind," Mr Roberts said.
"We cut the ribbon on Easter Saturday and in those first four days, we had 5000 people through."
It was more success than the group expected, and they had to overcome a few misadventures.
"We took $22,000 (in visitor fees). I said to (chair) Gwenda (Allgood) 'what did you do with the money?'," Mr Roberts said. "But nobody remembered the money, so the caravan was sitting out the front with a biscuit tin with $22,000 in it."
The opening ceremony will be open to the public, and tickets can be purchased here.
Children under 16 can attend free.
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