Presidents Park was opened in 2004 by a local attraction entrepreneur Newman. It was a ten acre sculpture park with 20 foot high sculptures of 43 presidents, constructed by David Adickes. Thousands of people visited the the heads during the time it was open. The park became bankrupt and closed in 2010. Each head weighed 20,000 pounds and when it was closed the park order wanted them destroyed but then a farmer asked if he could have them. With 50,000 dollars of his own money, he moved all the heads to his family farm, in hopes of restoring them. There is also a short documentary called All the Presidents’ Heads.
Some people now come and take pictures of the decaying heads. The heads are on private property, some people have asked the owners and have been let in. A photographer named John Plashal is now giving tours of the site.
The Western state hospital was open in 1828, and over 60 years, construction expanded the institution. The hospital was known for it's very interesting methods of curing mental illness like electroshock therapy, straight jackets and lobotomies. A new sanatorium nearby was founded by a Doctor Joseph Dejarnette, who was also director of Western State aswell, (the sanitarium was private for middle-income patients while Western state was a public institution). Dajarnette was a very respected doctor at the time and was a strong supporter of eugenics, and forced sterilization on patients. This sterilization was when he would do procedures to make females with mental illness not be able to have children without their consent so they won't be able to pass their mental illness to their children. Most of his victims of forced sterilization were poor and mostly African American and Native American, because Darjenette did not think "these kinds of people" should be able to reproduce. Here is a quote from Doctor Darjenette: “Germany in six years has sterilized about 80,000 of her unfit while the United States with approximately twice the population has only sterilized about 27,869 to January 1, 1938 in the past 20 years … The fact that there are 12,000,000 defectives in the US should arouse our best endeavors to push this procedure to the maximum.” In 1975 the Dejarnette sanitarium was acquired by the state in 1975, and become a children's hospital and part of Western state and was renamed Commonwealth Center for Children and Adolescents. The Western State Asylum is now a newly renovated "Blackburn Inn" named after a main architect of the buildings, Thomas. R Blackburn.
The Western state has been renovated to a hotel, though I am not sure what is happening with the Dejarnette buildings, so you may be able to access those.
The original house was built between the 1800's and 1815. From 1816-1896. The Selma mansion had many different owners including a Virginia senator. In 1896 it was burned down and only a small part of the building was standing. The Selma land was then purchased and they rebuilt by the White family. It was finished in 1902 and is the same building still standing today. The plantation stayed in the White family for a few generations and the house included speaking tubes and a gentleman's smoking room connected to the spring house so Mr.White could use fresh spring water to dilute his bourbon. During the roaring 20's the White family were known to throw the best and biggest parties in Selma's Great Hall. Selma was often in newspapers and magazines. Politicians often went to many parties at Selma. In 1975 the Epperson family bought the mansion and rented it out as a venue for weddings and events. In 1999, the mansion was sold but it was just left to decay and was abandoned for 17 years. In 2016, they renovated Selma Plantation and is now open for weddings and events again.
Photographs And History from:
and Rick Martin and Lost Film
NOT ABANDONED ANYMORE.
The Renaissance Faire in Virginia opened in 1996 and closed just three years later and was never repurposed. The park were supposed to look like a fuedel port and they constructed the buildings in the medieval European style. The site also had a replica of a ship that performers would do preformances on. They closed in 1966 because the land was very swampy and muggy Most furniture and props were moved but the buildings sat and rotted.
I would not recommend going to the renaissance faire because the land is currently leased to hunters and you could be shot.
The Lorton Reformatory was opened in 1910 and was first called "the District of Columbia workhouse". Most prisoners weren't dangerous, and people with short sentences. Rosevelt, the president at the time,was looking for a new jail system, and came up with the idea of reformatories, a place where the prisoners could be rehabilitated and can return to society as a better person, and not a "danger to society" . The prisoners at Lorton did work, like metalworking and brick making to teach them skills for when they were released. In 1912, they built a female workhouse so that women could learn to cook, sew and do laundry, and they also built a juvenile facility. Later, in 1935, they built a high security part of the prison, to work on rehabilitating dangerous inmates. From 1940-1960's the reformatory became a farm, and the inmates took care and tended to the animals and plants. The Military also took over some of the reformatories land, and made it one of their nike missile sites. The reformatory held also some famous prisoners. They held famous suffragettes, Dora Lewis and Lucy Burns, who were put in prison for protesting. During their stay they were abused and chained to cells, and were fed rotten food. Also Chuck Brown who was a famous guitarist, was a prisoner at Lorton, and actually learned to play guitar at Lorton. Another celebrity was Paul Hudson, the singer for a punk band "Bad Brains", and went to Lorton on a weed charge. Before getting the charge, he was recording the album and had to finish the record by singing over the prison telephone. Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, and Count Basie all visited the reformatory, to perform for the jails "jazz festival". In addition to the jazz festival, the inmates had other fun activities like sports teams, on their two sports fields. Lorton was famous for being a prison "without walls" because of how it was less of a jail, and more relaxed to promote reforming the prisoners. They slowly started "to get walls", and they stopped with their progressive ideas and now it had turned into a real jail. Now, prisoners did not have any choice in working, and they were paid little to nothing. There were also many protests or uprisings through the 70s to 90s, and they also had a hostage situation in 1974 and inmates set a building on fire. By 1995 the prison was in really bad shape, and the whole building was falling apart, and one resident testified at a hearing to close Lorton saying "crumbling perimeter walls, abandoned guard towers, malfunctioning security systems, escapes, riots, inadequate maintenance of facilities, murder within its confines, gross personnel shortages, inadequately trained staff, and readily available drugs paint a picture of a prison facility that is no longer serving the public interest.” though they still did not close Lorton. In the last years of Lorton, inmates attacked the guards almost 400 times. Lorton was also incarcerating about 7,300 inmates, 44% more then they should have. In 2001 it was finally closed, and all the inmates were transferred.
The building is now renovated and turned into apartment buildings, and there is nothing more to see.