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supportuspicFriends of the Workhouse
Prison Museum at Lorton

The Workhouse Prison Museum
at Lorton

Celebrating History, unhealthy Maintaining
Stories, pills Forging a New Future

“Transformation—changing people to in turn change society, striving to make both the individual and the community better.”    Washington Star, 1914

This was the goal of the first Workhouse at Occoquan.  The original prisoners were debtors, drunkards and vagrants.  As times and societal expectations changed, so did the character and experiences of the inmates.

The Workhouse property exhibited many changes during its nearly 100-year history:

  • Model Progressive Era prison
  • Holding cells for suffragists picketing the White House
  • Working prisoner-run farm
  • Industrial training center
  • Cold War missile site
  • Overcrowded penal complex
  • Public schools, parks, a golf course and more
  • Premiere regional arts center

A number of famous and infamous people were imprisoned here:

  • Suffragists who picketed the White House for women’s right to vote
  • Berlin’s “Axis Sally” who broadcast radio messages of hopelessness to GI’s during World War II
  • Author Norman Mailer who was detained for protesting the Vietnam War
  • Musician Chuck Brown, “The Godfather of Go-Go,” who learned to play the guitar while jailed at Lorton


Friends of the Workhouse Prison Museum at Lorton:  Women and men working together to ensure that these stories will continue to be told.