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'Historic' Laurel Hill

Letter to the Editor

A series of public meetings has been set on a nomination to add the Laurel Hill area and the former Lorton prison site to the National Register of Historic Places.

The D.C. Workhouse and Reformatory Historic District covers 500 acres of the former prison site, including the Piedmont landscape with farm structures, as well as the former reformatory, penitentiary and the Occoquan workhouse. These structures, built in the Colonial Revival style, date back to 1916.

The area is considered historically significant because it embraced President Theodore Roosevelt’s desire for a correctional facility focused on rehabilitating inmates.

From 1910 to 2001, the prison held inmates from Washington, D.C. Among its historic prisoners were more than 100 women arrested at pickets and violence related to the women's suffrage movement. The women, mostly from the National Women's Party, were imprisoned from July to December 1917 at a medium-security facility west of Ox Road.

The entire 2,400 acre Laurel Hill site was transferred to Fairfax County in 2002.

The meetings, which will culminate in a bid to add the site to the list of nationally protected places, will take place on:

* Sept. 22: Supervisor Gerry Hyland (D-Mount Vernon) will sponsor a meeting on the nomination at 7:30 p.m., at the South County Secondary School, Room 103, 8307 Silverbrook Lane, Lorton

* Oct. 5: The Fairfax County History Commission will discuss the nomination at 7:30 p.m., at the Fairfax City Regional Library, 3915 Chain Bridge Road, Fairfax

* Oct. 13: The Fairfax County Architectural Review Board will discuss the nomination at 6:30 p.m., at the Fairfax County Government Center, Conference Rooms 9 & 10, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax.

* Oct. 17: The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will host a public hearing on the nomination at 4:30 p.m., at the Fairfax County Government Center, Board Auditorium, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax.

* Oct. 25: The Virginia Department of Historic Resources will conduct its public hearing at 7 p.m., at the Fairfax County Government Center, Conference Rooms 4 & 5, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax.

* Nov. 2: The Fairfax County History Commission will complete its formal review, comment and recommendation at 7:30 p.m., at the Fairfax City Regional Library, 3915 Chain Bridge Road, Fairfax.

* Nov. 10: The Fairfax County Architectural Review Board will complete its formal review, comment and recommendation at 6:30 p.m., at the Fairfax County Government Center, Conference Rooms 9 & 10, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax.

Following these meetings, the State Review Board and Historic Resources Board will consider the nomination on Dec. 7. In late December, the Virginia Department of Historic Resources is scheduled to forward the nomination along to the National Park Service, with a final decision about the site's placement on the National Register of Historic Places scheduled for February or March 2006.

Properties listed on the national register include qualification for tax credits for offsetting rehab costs, the ability to apply for special grants and the official recognition of a site's historic value.

For more information about Laurel Hill, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/laurelhill.

To subscribe to the Laurel Hill e-mail newsletter, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/email/lists and select “Laurel Hill News and Project Status.”