Lorton Prison

The following photos were taken at the Lorton
Prison in Lorton, VA.  Lorton Prison is about twenty
miles southwest of Washington, DC.  It was great to
have the opportunity to photograph there. One of
my Meetup groups got special permission to gain
access to the site.  It will be soon be revitalized.  

Lorton was the main jail serving the Washington
area from 1910 until its closure in 2001.

Having started out as a workhouse in 1910, it was
relaunched in 1916 as the Lorton Correctional
Complex.  The facility housed some of the DC area’s
most famous miscreants, including Chuck Brown,
the so-called “Godfather of Go-Go”, who spent eight
years in Lorton in the 1950s following
a conviction for murder.

Today, Lorton is little more than a rotting, empty
shell. A mix of empty dormitories littered with
metal beds, once the home of minimum-security
prisoners, and lines of jail cells in the penitentiary,
their doors left open, as I imagine they were when
the last prisoners left.

Electricity was shut off years ago, so now the place
is a lair of light and shadow. Dazzlingly bright
light illuminates the public areas, with vast
windows spilling bright light on to the concrete
floors, while other areas, such the power plant, are
deep wells of bottomless shadow.

The deep, brooding shadows, combined with the
repeating lines of prison cell doors and barred
windows, made for fascinating image-making
opportunities.

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