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Y History Walk – Back to the Prison

13 Aug
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James River Correctional Center

On Sunday, June 26, 2016, more than 50 people gathered on the lawn in front of the clock tower at the James River Correctional Center property. They were there to take part in the second Y History Walk tour of the old prison property. Assistant Warden Nikki Linamen greeted all and gave a brief history of the property. The walking tour then began.

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Anxiously awaiting the tour

A tour of the old chapel which was followed by an in depth look at the deserted cell block housed in the clock tower building. This was followed by a tour of the segregation building where prisoners who didn’t follow the rules were taken to seperate them from the general population. Following the prison buildings was a walk out to the historic brick kilns that once produced bricks that were used all over the state.

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Inside of one of the cell blocks

Thank you to the Virginia Department of Corrections for making the property available to us for the afternoon and thank you to Assistant Warden Nikki Linamen for taking time out of her day to escort us around the property and answer the myriad of questions that were thrown her way. It was a wonderful afternoon and a fun and informative tour.

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Bricks were produced here that were used all over the state.

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Y History Walk – “The State Farm”

15 Jul

On Sunday, July 12, the Historical Society in cooperation with the Goochland YMCA held a history walk at the site of the old James River Correctional Center, known to long time Goochlanders as the “State Farm”. Thirty walkers showed up in what turned out to be wonderful weather to tour some of the oldest buildings on the prison grounds and as a bonus, we got to take a trip to the old brick foundry.

The group in front of the brick foundry

The group in front of the brick foundry

After a welcome and introduction by Society President, Wayne Dementi, Warden Jeff Dillman and Assistant Warden Nikki Linamen took over the group. They told about the founding of the prison in Goochland and gave details about the different Wardens, Surgeons and activities from the earliest period through to the closure as a State Penitentiary.

Our tour leaders: Warden Jeff Dillman and Assistant Warden Nikki Linamen

Our tour leaders: Warden Jeff Dillman and Assistant Warden Nikki Linamen

Next, the group was led into the Chapel which was completed in 1914. The cruciform building is now a shell, but the slag glass windows and one stained glass window remain. This building and several others on the prison grounds are now used by the movie industry as sets standing in for various prisons around the country.

The cell block from inside the exercise yard

The cell block from inside the exercise yard

We were then led into the old cell block. This beautiful building with a clock tower conceals rows of bunk beds that were used into this century to house prisoners. Today, some of the beds are still in place for use by the movie industry while other portions have been cleaned out.

One of the cells in the segregation building

One of the cells in the segregation building

We also got a look at the former exercise yard which still has weight benches set up seemingly waiting to be used again by incarcerated persons. We also got a look at an older building just off the yard which is also still set up as a movie set.

Abandoned equipment still on the exercise yard

Abandoned equipment still on the exercise yard

As a special treat, the Warden and Assistant Warden led us down the hill to the site of the brick foundry. This site dates back to the founding of the prison and produced brick until the 1950’s. Some of the bricks produced went to the sidewalks and reconstruction at Colonial Williamsburg among other places. Three large kilns still stand with their arched roofs intact. It was quite a site and several in the crowd of walkers couldn’t resist going inside the large buildings where they were treated to the oculus in the top of the dome.

Inside of one of the brick kilns

Inside of one of the brick kilns

This was a wonderful adventure for all that attended. The Society would like to thank Warden Jeffrey Dillman and Assistant Warden Nikki Linamen for their research on the site and presentation to the attendees. They were excellent tour guides around a beautiful place with it’s interesting history.

Everyone enjoyed the old brick foundry

Everyone enjoyed the old brick foundry

Contributed by James Richmond of the Goochland County Historical Society

Y History Walkers

3 Apr

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The Goochland County Historical Society has partnered with the Goochland Family YMCA to offer the upcoming Y History Walkers Series. The tours will be open to everyone and are free of charge. The first tour will be on April 26, 2015 at Tucker Park at Maidens Crossing at 3:00 pm. Please register at the Goochland Family YMCA membership desk or by calling Member Services at 804-556-9887.

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