The Story Behind This Abandoned Prison in Virginia is Terrifying

Virginia is known for its rich history, but some of its historical sites are more sinister than others. One such place is the Lorton Reformatory, a former prison that witnessed horrific events and abuse over the years. Today, the prison stands abandoned and decaying, but its dark past still haunts the visitors who dare to explore it.

The Lorton Reformatory: A Failed Experiment in Prison Reform

The Lorton Reformatory was built in 1910 as an “industrial farm” or “workhouse”, where medium-security prisoners were supposed to be rehabilitated through hard manual labor. The prison was built by the prisoners themselves, using bricks made on-site. The prison also had a women’s workhouse, where inmates were charged with minor offenses such as prostitution, disorderly conduct, or drunkenness.

However, the prison soon became overcrowded, unsanitary, and violent. The prisoners were subjected to harsh conditions, brutal punishments, and frequent escapes. The prison also had a notorious reputation for being the site of the “Night of Terror”, a series of horrific events that happened on November 15, 1917.

The Night of Terror: A Horrible Chapter in Women’s Suffrage History

On that night, 33 women who were members of the National Woman’s Party were arrested for picketing for women’s voting rights outside the White House. They were taken to the Lorton Reformatory, where they were met with cruelty and torture by the prison guards and officials. The women were chained, beaten, stabbed, and force-fed raw eggs through tubes. Some of them suffered permanent injuries and trauma from the ordeal.

The Night of Terror was one of the most shocking and shameful episodes in the history of the women’s suffrage movement. It also sparked public outrage and sympathy for the suffragists, who eventually won the right to vote in 1920 with the ratification of the 19th Amendment.

The Lorton Reformatory Today: A Ghostly Reminder of the Past

The Lorton Reformatory continued to operate until 2001, when it was finally closed due to its deteriorating conditions and human rights violations. The prison was then left to decay and rot, becoming a magnet for urban explorers, ghost hunters, and graffiti artists. The prison is also rumored to be haunted by the spirits of the former inmates and guards, who still linger in the cells and hallways.

However, not all of the prison complex is abandoned. The maximum security facility that was once part of the prison system has been transformed into a mixed-use development area called “Laurel Crest”, which includes businesses and apartments. The contrast between the old and the new is striking, as the former prison now coexists with the modern community.


The Lorton Reformatory is a place that holds a terrifying story behind its walls. It is a place that witnessed the worst of human cruelty and injustice, as well as the courage and resilience of the women who fought for their rights. It is a place that is now a ghostly reminder of the past, but also a hopeful sign of the future. It is a place that is worth exploring, but also respecting, as it is a part of Virginia’s history.

Leave a Comment