Browsing articles tagged with "Mary Surratt Archives - Historic Fort Lesley J. McNair"
Sep
22

Brick, Brick, Wall and a Few Buildings Too! (Part 1)

By John Michael  //  Washington Arsenal  //  No Comments

The Capital City Needs A New Federal Penitentiary – Part 1

charles bulfinchWhen President John Quincy Adams tapped Charles Bulfinch, the architect from Boston, to design the first federal penitentiary on the northern acres of Greenleaf Point, who knew the role this structure would later play in the history of the United States – specifically in regard to the Lincoln assassination.   Bulfinch, as the 3rd Architect of the Capitol, had redesigned that building, incorporating a new central dome to it. He succeeded Benjamin Henry Latrobe, who was the 2nd Architect of the Capitol and Stephen Hallet (a.k.a. Étienne Sulpice Hallet) who was Major Pierre Charles L’Enfant‘s draftsman and the 1st Architect of the Capitol.

It Began in Boston

Bulfinch made his name and reputation in New England, specifically in Massachusetts  and around Boston -designing several buildings. Among these facts were why in 1817 he was named as the Architect of the Capital. In addition to the work done on the Capitol, he designed a prison in Alexandria, Va. (1826) and also designed the Federal Penitentiary (1827-28), Washington DC.

An In-depth Penitentiary Study

To get a better perspective about a penitentiary design,  Bulfinch sought out a variety of prisons both existing  or those being built in New York, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania.  Armed with that knowledge, he then prepared a report to the President that highlighted his actions and the conclusions and recommendations for the new penitentiary that would be built for the Capital City located at the northern end of Greenleaf Point.

bulfinch penitentiary report

Results  and Recommendations for the Penitentiary

charles bulfinch on penitentiary

Read a copy of the report bulfinch-report-to-congress

A Penitentiary Design

Based on his report and details in it, the new District of Columbia Penitentiary would be a four-story brick building with twenty cells on each floor or a total of one hundred sixty cells surrounded by a perimeter wall.  The front of the penitentiary would face north.  Within the courtyard would be a separate building – that’s where the kitchen, mess hall and the shoe factory would be.

bulfinch penitentiary sketch

 

penitentiary plan

What the Future Held

The penitentiary completed in 1827 and never filled to capacity and the shoe factory didn’t provide enough income to maintain the facility since the combination of types of prisoners along with the number wasn’t sufficient Yet less than four decades later, it would be the site of what would be the incarceration, trial, and hanging of four of the Lincoln assassination conspirators including Mary Surratt – the first woman hanged by the US  federal government.

washington federal penitentiary

 

BUY THE BOOK

Images of America - Fort Lesley J. McNair

Images of America – Fort Lesley J. McNair

An  Author Autographed copy of the book is available for purchase.  Buy the Book

 

Brick, Brick, Wall  – Part 2 –

After that fateful day – 07 JUL 1865  what happened Next?   (COMING SOON)

Nov
7

Grant Hall Open House 07 NOV 2015

By John Michael  //  Fort Lesley J McNair  //  No Comments

Historic Fort Lesley J. McNair

Fort Lesley J. McNair - Main Gate

Fort Lesley J. McNair – Main Gate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grant Hall – Where The Trial Took Place

Nearly 500 people braved the chilly rainy weather and ventured out to Fort Lesley J. McNair to learn more about the trial of the Lincoln assassination conspirators from some noted historians.   It was Open House at Building #20 – also known as Grant Hall – one of the remaining buildings from the Federal Penitentiary that once stood on the acres of this historic US Army Post…

Established in 1791 when Major Charles Pierre L’Enfant designed and laid out the new Capital City. it had become by the time the trial was held – Washington Arsenal with the first Federal Penitentiary occupying the northern part of the peninsula known once as Greenleaf Point.

Grant Hall –  Third Floor

Slightly modified over time,  it’ s the only remaining part of the penitentiary – it was originally the deputy warden’s quarters when it was attached to the main cell block of the penitentiary.

Grant Hall - Bldg #20

Grant Hall – Bldg #20

Noted Historians Provide the Details

In 1865, a military commission was established to determine the fate of the assassination conspirators.  After several weeks and hundreds of witnesses, the determination of the fate of the prisoners was made –  four of the conspirators would head to the gallows – among them was Mary Surratt – the first woman to be hanged by the Federal Government.

the courtroom where the trial was held

the courtroom where the trial was held

FUTURE OPEN HOUSE OPPORTUNITIES

FUTURE OPEN HOUSE SCHEDULE
Grant Hall Public Open Houses are held quarterly on the first Saturday of the second month of each quarter. During a calendar year, those months are February, May, August and November. The dates in 2016 for Grant Hall Public Open Houses are: Feb 6 (weather depending — will close for snow, so check JBM-HH Facebook), May 7, Aug 6 and Nov 5. Open House hours are 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. For more information please contact the public affairs office on Fort Myer

 

OVER 200 HISTORICAL IMAGES, MAPS & ILLUSTRATIONS

The book, Images of America – Fort Lesley J. McNair contains over two hundred historical photographs, images and illustrations which chronicle the two hundred plus years of history among the acres of this US Army Post.

The book “Images of America – Fort Lesley J McNair”  is “a walk down memory lane” as one reader called it after he turned the last page.  Go beyond the website and read more of the history with your own copy – BUY THE BOOK offers the opportunity to get either a personalized & autographed copy from the author or purchase the book from one of the major resellers.

Images of America - Fort Lesley J. McNair

Images of America – Fort Lesley J. McNair

Jul
7

The Lincoln Conspirators Hanged

First Woman Hanged by the Federal Government

The Lincoln Conspirators Hanged…

After weeks of listening to testimony of hundreds of “witnesses” the military commission’s came to a consensus and the orders were carried out. On July 7, 1865, four conspirators – Lewis Powell, David Herold, George Atzerodt, and Mary Surratt – were hanged by the neck at Federal Penitentiary at Washington Arsenal in Washington D.C.  The remaining conspirators: Dr. Samuel Mudd, Samuel Arnold, Michael O’Laughlen, and Edmund Spangler received other sentences or were later freed when President Andrew Johnson pardoned them.  John Surratt, the son of Mary Surratt who had become a fugitive and first went to Canada then to Europe then Africa was later captured and tried, but got set free on a technicality.

 

 

Lincoln Conspirators

Mary Surratt

Mary Surratt

George Atzerodt

George Atzerodt

David Herold

David Herold

Lewis Powell

Lewis Powell

Gallows Constructed in the Courtyard

While the trial was being held preparations were made for the outcome with gallows built in the courtyard of the penitentiary to carry out the sentence of the military commission. The actual assassin, John Wilkes Booth, already dead was buried temporarily within the penitentiary grounds.

 

 

 

 

Conspirators on Scaffold

Conspirators on Scaffold

The Lincoln conspirators hanged at the gallows…

hanged to death

hanged to death

 

Their bodies were then placed in coffins and buried temporarily in shallow graves near the gallows.  Within days the gallows were removed and later the entire penitentiary was also  dismantled save for one part of the building that stands until today,  Grant Hall, where the trial took place. After the rest of the buildings came down,  the bricks were then used for the walls that now surround Fort Lesley J. McNair.

 

coffns and graves

\coffins and graves

 

OVER 200 HISTORICAL IMAGES, MAPS & ILLUSTRATIONS

The book, Images of America – Fort Lesley J. McNair contains over two hundred historical photographs, images and illustrations which chronicle the two hundred plus years of history among the acres of this US Army Post.

The book “Images of America – Fort Lesley J McNair”  is “a walk down memory lane” as one reader called it after he turned the last page.  Go beyond

Images of America - Fort Lesley J. McNair

Images of America – Fort Lesley J. McNair

the website and read more of the history with your own copy – BUY THE BOOK offers the opportunity to get either a personalized & autographed copy from the author or purchase the book from one of the major resellers.

JOHN MICHAEL CREATIVES    —   JOIN OUR MAILING LIST

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