Welcome! This is the place I write about Things I Notice in my daily walkabouts as well as what I might think about things in my world.

Lorton Prison

Happy New Year To All!This gallery is from my walkabout in the Lorton Prison on December 30, 2016. The first several photos are from the Maximum Security compound, a place of terror, horror, and depression apparently for both the inmates and to some extent, the correctional officers. I lived not too far from the prison when I first moved here in the 1980s and often heard the "escape sirens" that were on towers in the community. The sirens wailed loudly and long to warn folks of an escape of what was always a dangerous prisoner. Until the facility closed in 2001, it was often in the news (for instance, Lorton in the Washington City Paper) because of the violence, overcrowding, and just downright awfulness of the place. The gallery below begins in maximum security that will be renovated in the future; the later photos include shots of the buildings in renovation and some of the very modern apartments still in development but getting very close. This is truly a cool project...a joint venture between Fairfax County and two developers. Each invested dollars, energy, innovation, and time to realize the potential for this community; not too long from now people will live in these halls again, but in a decidedly more happy situation.

Brief Description of Photos In The Gallery

The B&W is from just outside the wall of the Max Security compound with the Psych Ward Building on the left. The next shot is from the guard tower at the corner of the compound...the Psych Ward on the left, inside the compound on the right.  A closer look at the Psych Ward exterior. The next four shots are from inside Max Security, the collapsed stones on the ground are indicative of what apparently was a large and complex underground tunnel system that went all through the prison.   The tower in the middle of the wall may have been "The Hole" where the worst of the worst were often sent.  I'm not sure of that, we didn't get to go into that part of the complex. The spiral staircase and the room with a ladder are from one of the guard towers at the corner of the walled compound. [Correction: A reader pointed out that this was actually an armory and guard station. The disciplinary cells were in the building that will now be the pool complex.]  The basketball court gave me pause since the prisoners in this part were kept mostly alone and only let out for an hour a day and usually by themselves. Perhaps this was for the guards, although there were two courts. The "picnic" table and brightly painted mural are from guard rooms in the individual cell blocks. The weight machines were on each floor of each cell blocks, the prisoners were allowed an hour a day to use if they wanted to use them. The cell blocks were almost the same with a few differences. One of the photos is of a placard with prisoner names and ID numbers, probably from 2001. The individual cells doors were controlled at the end of the block by the control panels. The cells were all metal...everything...the beds, the walls, the lockers...everything. There was a "hall' right next to the cell doors and then a caged wall and then another "hall" for the guards.  The rooms with yellow tiled walls are from the chow hall and the kitchen. The sinks, ovens, and other large appliances are still there as if they're waiting for the next wave of "customers."The project coordinator is pointing out some of the features of the Reuse project on a sign just outside the prison. The photos after are of the prisoner barracks and other facilities that are in the renovation process. The old gymnasium is included with one apartment that will retain the barred internal doorway between the dining room and the living room that had previously been between an observation area and the wrestling/boxing room. The horizontal window between the two rooms allowed observation of the combatants on the mats.  New cabinets and modern appliances are beginning to show up in some of the buildings. The baseball field that Frank Sinatra performed in 1965 will become a park. The old chapel will become a new religious facility. Additional parks, community centers, grocery stores, restaurants, shops, landscaping and more will slowly fill the space and make this place a home for many people. The memories will remain...the mood will change. [pp_gallery id="3183" style-id="2d147b3f-16d5-46f3-8b0a-b6f8d77fa86b"] 

Another Prison

From Dangerous Prison To Innovative, Modern Community