The Brentsville Jail -- Exhibit Naming Opportunities

The Prince William Historic Preservation Foundation is currently raising money for museum exhibits and interpretive services for the “ Old Jail”, which is the final building to be restored at the 29 acres Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre, an open-air museum centered around the restored 1820s courthouse.  The “Old Jail”, has a colorful and tragic history, and among other things, will be used to interpret seventy years of murder and mayhem in early Prince William County. 


The Brentsville Jail Museum will house a number of period rooms such as the Jailor’s Office, Maximum Security Cell, Debtor’s Cell, Victorian era dormitory (reflecting the building’s history as a school), and a Korean War era master bedroom (reflecting the building’s history as a private residence).  Each of the ten exhibit spaces will have a special focus.  Some of the themes include 19th century crime and punishment, the history of slavery and African American history, historic architecture and building techniques, and local history.  


One of the old jail cells on the first floor will recreate a furnished jail cell of the early 19th century. Brendon Hanafin, the county’s Historic Preservation Division Chief, says, “We’re going to make these rooms so they’re like what they looked like then.  They were dark. There was no ventilation. There was no heating, no cooling, little windows, and bars on the doors. So you’re going to walk into these things, and you’re going to be immersed in how horrible it would have been to have been in there.”

The “Old Jail” at Brentsville will be one of only a handful of jails in the nation that have been restored to the look and feel of pre-Civil War America, and the only one in the Washington D.C. Metro region.


The Brentsville Jail project also offers an opportunity for individuals and businesses that support the project with gifts of $10,000 or more to have their generosity publicly noted as the sponsor of one of the exhibit rooms.  For more information on this opportunity, contact Foundation President, Meagan Reddick by email


The Prince William Museum at Rippon Lodge


The Foundations' signature future project is the new Prince William Museum at Rippon Lodge.  Currently in the planning stages, the museum will be located at historic Rippon Lodge, and will incorporate state-of-the art information and assistive technologies that will enable real-time interactivity between the musuem, visitors, and educational institutions of all levels.


America is a community of communities, rich in diversity, rich in pride for the achievements and sacrifices of the past, and rich in optimism for the promise of the future.  The Prince William Museum at Rippon Lodge will tell the story of America by looking at the lives of ordinary people who loved family, tended to their businesses, and served their community quietly and effectively in both good times and bad in Prince William County, a quintessential crossroads community of America since the arrival of the first European colonists.


At the museum you will find the story of George C. Round, an ex-union officer who settled in Virginia in 1865 and selflessly devoted himself to civic affairs; of Robert Portner, who arrived as a penniless sixteen year old immigrant who built a life as a visionary businessman, inventor, and developer; and of Jennie Dean, a woman born into slavery who had the vision and courage to establish the Manassas Industrial School for Colored Youth in 1894.


All this and more will greet you at the future Prince William Musuem at Rippon Lodge.  Set on a bluff above the scenic Potomac River and buffered by woodlands, the Museum is destined to become a destination among the family musuems in Northern Virginia, a place of pride, inspiration, and renewal.  Watch the brief video below for more information on this exciting project.