“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Richmond, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

Virginia State Penitentiary

Virginia State Penitentiary Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, September 3, 2017
1. Virginia State Penitentiary Marker
Inscription. The Virginia General Assembly authorized a state penitentiary in 1796 during a penal reform movement aimed at rehabilitating convicts through confinement and labor. Benjamin H. Latrobe, who later designed the United States Capitol, was the primary architect. The peniten- tiary opened here in 1800, and other buildings were added later. Early inmates included former U.S. Vice President Aaron Burr, incarcerated in 1807 while awaiting trial for treason, and British prisoners captured during the War of 1812. Virginia’s executions took place here from 1908 until the penitentiary closed in 1990. Latrobe’s structure was razed in 1927, and the rest of the complex was demolished in 1992.
Erected 2016 by Department of Historic Resources. (Marker Number SA-113.)
Location. 37° 32.366′ N, 77° 26.941′ W. Marker is in Richmond, Virginia. Marker is at the intersection of South Belvidere Street (U.S. 301) and Spring Street, on the left when traveling south on South Belvidere Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Richmond VA 23220, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Samuel Pleasants Parsons House (within shouting distance of this marker); Virginia War Memorial
Virginia State Penitentiary Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, September 3, 2017
2. Virginia State Penitentiary Marker
(approx. 0.2 miles away); John Miller House (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Canal and the Civil War (approx. ¼ mile away); Rail Lines at Tredegar (approx. ¼ mile away); Worker Housing (approx. ¼ mile away); Grace Evelyn Arents (approx. ¼ mile away); Neighborhoods at Tredegar (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Richmond.
Also see . . .  Elevations and Drawings for the Virginia “Penitentiary House”. “The Virginia State Penitentiary, since demolished, was Latrobe's first major public commission in America and a monument to the era's penal reform movement. Latrobe's elevations of the south front of the proposed prison building show an entryway and a "keeper's house" at the center of the ranges of cells. The plan reflects the Enlightenment's reliance on solitary confinement and surveillance as a means to reform prisoners. Throughout most of the eighteenth century, the reform of criminals was thought impossible, and thus public ostracism and severe punishments were routine. The reformers hoped that criminals could redeem
Latrobe’s Penitentiary House Drawings image. Click for full size.
1797 Ink and watercolor on paper by Benjamin Henry Latrobe via The Library of Virginia
3. Latrobe’s Penitentiary House Drawings
themselves through penitence and solitary reflection. Latrobe's plan also called for the separation of male and female prisoners, a practice seldom followed in earlier jails.” (Submitted on September 11, 2017.) 
Categories. ArchitectureNotable Places
Credits. This page was last revised on September 11, 2017. This page originally submitted on September 11, 2017, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio. This page has been viewed 105 times since then and 24 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on September 11, 2017, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio.
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