New Prison to Park Festival Comes to Laurel Hill in Lorton
Laurel Hill Park, the site of the former Lorton Reformatory, will host the “Great Escape” Prison to Park Festival on Saturday, September 15, 2012, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The site has undergone a dramatic transformation since the prison closed in 2001, and now the main prison complex is slated for redevelopment. Before that process begins, the Fairfax County Park Authority is celebrating the park’s transformation with a full day of family-friendly activities. Special wagon tours inside the prison grounds, including the maximum security area, will give festival attendees a final chance to experience life behind the walls. Admission is $2 per person. Wagon rides are $10 per person with prepaid reservation. The festival will take place within the Giles Run Meadow section of the park, located at 8400 Lorton Road.
The prison complex is set to be redeveloped by The Alexander Company, Elm Street Development and the Fairfax County. The approved plans include a mix of retail and residential buildings, as well as office and civic space. Most of the historic buildings will be preserved, but the appearance of the site will change with new development. The Prison to Park Festival is the perfect opportunity to get a last look at this historic landmark and explore the natural, cultural, and recreational resources of Laurel Hill. The rain date is Sunday, September 16. For more information, call 703-451-9588.
Festival highlights include:
• Wagon tours of the prison*
• Farm animals
• Children’s games
• Horse rides
• Live music
• Giant sack slide
• Food from Gordon’s Grille
• Pond exploration
• Guided nature walks
• Disc golf and mtn. biking demonstrations
Theodore Roosevelt commissioned the Lorton Workhouse and Reformatory for the District of Columbia in the early 1900s. In 2002, the 2,234-acre prison complex of buildings and former farmland was sold by the General Services Administration to Fairfax County for a discounted price of $4.2 million. Along with the remaining prison complex, the site now includes an award-winning golf course, new schools, the Workhouse Arts Center, multi-use trails and acres of undisturbed parkland.
*Wagon tours are $10 per person and must be booked in advance. Kids age four and under ride free. To make a reservation, visit Parktakes Online. To view maps, redevelopment plans, and watch the documentary, From Lorton to Laurel Hill, visit the Dept. of Planning and Zoning web site.