Fairfax County Removes Historic Crucifix From Former Lorton Prison Chapel

Fairfax County Office of Public Affairs
12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 551
Fairfax, VA 22035-0065
Contact: Merni Fitzgerald, Director of Public Affairs
703-324-3187, TTY 711, Fax 703-324-2010
Media Pager: 703-324-NEWS (6397)

Dec. 12, 2006

Fairfax County Removes Historic Crucifix From
Former Lorton Prison Chapel

Fairfax County has removed a life-size, historic crucifix from the former Lorton prison chapel. The 2001 closure of the prison meant a loss of climate control in the buildings, resulting in a harsh environment for the 15-by-8 foot crucifix. The crucifix was showing signs of deterioration and was in need of cleaning and placement in a more hospitable environment.

The crucifix dates to approximately 1961, the year that the Lorton prison chapel opened. The plaster body cast of the figure on the cross was modeled after a death-row inmate, later pardoned, and the cross was likely fashioned from timbers from the prison site. The chapel, designed by an inmate, is a contributing structure in the District of Columbia Workhouse and Reformatory National Register Historic District.

The county was assisted in the removal of the crucifix on Dec. 6 by ELY Inc., a firm that specializes in the proper handling and packaging of art and artifacts. The crucifix will remain at ELY facilities for cleaning before being returned to Fairfax County. A final home for the crucifix will be determined by the county.

Photos of the crucifix removal are available at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/laurelhill.

The chapel is part of the former Lorton prison site that is being redeveloped and adaptively reused. The majority of the property — more than 2,000 acres — is to be used for park and recreation activities and public facilities. There is also the potential for residential and other uses in the adaptive reuse areas. The area is now known as Laurel Hill and is the home of the new Laurel Hill Golf Course, the Lorton Arts Foundation, the South County Secondary School and numerous other planned projects.

For more information about Laurel Hill, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/laurelhill or call 703-324-1375, TTY 711.


For more news and information, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/news.

To request this information in an alternate format, call the Office of Public Affairs at 703-324-3187, TTY 711.

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