The New Lucy Burns Museum, 91 Years of Prison History at Lorton

The renovation of the former office/cell block building at the Workhouse Arts Center has been completed. The new Lucy Burns Museum will be installed in the near future. Here are some photos of the new space; do compare them with those of the building before renovation. Thanks to two very generous Workhouse Arts Foundation Board Members for making this dream come true. Photos thanks to Joe Dzikiewicz.

A decrepit prison building is being transformed into a museum. This video provides a look at the current status of the building. The structure, vacated in 2001, is in extreme disrepair. There is no heat, plumbing, or electricity. The walls are peeling, multi-layered lead-based paint. Cell bars are rusting. The ceiling rains down asbestos-laced insulation. Yet by winter 2018 it is anticipated that the building will be cleaned and ready for the installation of compelling new exhibits about the history of the former D.C. Correctional Facility in Lorton, Virginia.  Included in the experience will be the 38 original cells housed in the building.   One unique part of that story focuses on the courageous women who were imprisoned at the Workhouse a century ago for demanding the right to vote. The sacrifices of these heroic suffragists will be honored at the opening of the new museum.

Video of Buildings 2 and 2A,  the future home of the Lucy Burns Museum at Lorton, June, 2016
This video shows the state of renovations as of October, 2016.

This video shows how it looked before renovations began.

Watch this space to see the process of renovation during the coming year.

Thanks to: Joe Dzikiewicz and Jaclyn O’Laughlin


“Before” photos of Buildings 2 and 2A, April 2016

_d__7353jpg_26289964490_oDuring May 2016, demolition will begin on the last unused dormitory at the Workhouse Arts Center. This is the first stage in preparing the building for the creation of a new, permanent museum at the Center. As you see from the accompanying photos, there is a great deal of work to be done. There is no plumbing or electricity and the damp of the unheated building has created the flaking walls, rusted metal on the cell doors, and the collapse of much of the ceiling. In a word, it’s a mess.

When the building has been renovated, the former reception area will be turned into a museum display space, the former administrative office area will house the public restrooms and museum work and storage space, and the cells will again resemble those that housed prisoners felt to require an attitude adjustment.

Pictures of the renovation will continue to be posted on this site. Check it often to see what’s going on.

Special thanks to two generous donors for making this extensive renovation work possible. We’re anticipating that other donors will help out with the additional costs of design, construction and installation of the new exhibits. Also thanks to Joe Dzikiewicz  for the photographs.

Laura McKie

Chair, Workhouse Museum and History Committee



Current photos , August 2017