6 Things About the Workhouse Arts Center You Didn’t Know

You may have heard about the Workhouse Arts Center’s art galleries and seasonal events.

But there’s still a lot to learn about this Northern Virginia destination. Read on to find our top picks for things to do (that you didn’t know about) at the Workhouse Arts Center near Liberty Lorton.

Meditation class 1. They offer more classes than art such as yoga.

You might not have guessed it from their name, however, in addition to being a thriving hub for regional artists, the Workhouse Arts Center offers several exercise classes, including yoga and Pilates. These classes, along with all Workhouse events, are open to the community and local residents who are looking for a bit of fun and culture in their backyard without having to trek to D.C.


Suffragists Picketing the White House, 1917

Colorized Photo of Suffragists Picketing the White House, 1917. Photo colorization by Sanna Dullaway for TIME

2. The Workhouse Arts Center is building a museum to honor suffragist Lucy Burns.

History buffs will be excited to dive into the Workhouse’s rich historical background at the Workhouse Prison Museum. The Workhouse Arts Center played a vital role in the fight to give American women the vote. In fact, the Workhouse is currently building a museum in honor of famous suffragist (and one-time prisoner) Lucy Burns.


Art piece at the Workhouse Arts Center guard towers

Artist-in-residence Martin Cervantez, via Inside Nova.

3. A local artist transformed the former guard towers into kaleidoscopes.

The Workhouse Arts Center works to preserve the historic sites of the former reformatory while giving them a modern twist. Martin Cervantez, a military veteran and former artist-in-residence, transformed the former guard towers into beautiful kaleidoscopes. The artist envisions the towers as “beacons of peace, love, and strength.” If you’re on the go, you can see the towers from neighboring Ox Road or nearby bike trails.


Lorton used to have a dairy farm.

4. It used to be a dairy farm!

As far back as 1908, the Workhouse was a local food hub designed to be self-sufficient and feed both itself and the rest of the Lorton Reformatory campus. In the 1950s, the entirety of the 2-mile area between the Workhouse and Liberty Lorton was filled with orchards, fields, and pastures. In fact, the Workhouse even provided milk for the D.C. General Hospital and public schools!


Cycling through Northern Virginia

5. You can take off from the Workhouse Arts Center and explore Northern Virginia by bike.

If you love to bike, the Workhouse Arts Center is centrally located nearby Northern Virginia’s network of bike trails. Stop by the Workhouse Arts Center and then explore the neighboring countryside via bike!  If you’re in the mood for a nice nature ride, Giles Run Park  is a short ride away from the Workhouse. If you’re feeling more ambitious, you could take a longer ride to Lake Accotink or all the way to the monuments in D.C. Check out Fairfax County’s handy map of bike trails for more inspiration!



Event at the Workhouse Arts Center

The Workhouse Arts Center today, via the Workhouse Arts Center Facebook

6. It’s free!

In case you needed another reason to visit the Workhouse Arts Center, it’s free! You can take family and friends there to explore local artist galleries, visit the museum, or take part in one of their many seasonal events free-of-charge. The Workhouse Arts Center makes it easy to experience arts, culture, and local fun without leaving your neighborhood.

At one time, the Lorton Prison was a larger campus that included the former Lorton Prison (now Liberty Lorton) and the Occoquan Occoquan Workhouse (now the Workhouse Arts Center). Although the two have since been divided, their shared past unites them.

Whether you’re an aspiring yogi, a local Virginia historian, or a moonlight Monet, the arts and culture scene in Lorton has something to offer everyone. For more information about Liberty, check out our website http://thelibertylife.com/ or stay in touch with us on Twitter @LibertyLorton. For more photos, find us on Facebook at Liberty Lorton and on Instagram @LibertyLorton.