The Lorton Reformatory is a prison in Lorton, Virginia about 19 miles outside of DC that closed in the late 1990s. This May, it officially reopened as a sprawling complex of apartments called Liberty at Lorton. It’s a great example of how a historical site can supply housing in a region that badly needs it, while still preserving a landmark with a storied history.

Over the summer, I toured the grounds and discussed their history with Jack Perkins, Vice President at Elm Street Development and the lead developer of the project. Perkins is a local history buff, and he shed a lot of light on how Elm Street and the Alexander Company, which was in charge of historical preservation during the redevelopment, transformed the prison into housing.

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This article was originally published by Joanne Tang in Greater Greater Washington.