• dogwood across creek

    Prince William Forest

    Park Virginia

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    Reminder to park visitors. Fireworks are prohibited at Prince William Forest Park.

  • Oak Ridge Campground Site A29 closure

    Oak Ridge Campground site A29 will be closed until safety concerns have been mitigated. Please do not use that site until it has been reopened.

  • Warm Wet Spring = More Ticks

    Please check yourself and your pets for ticks continually during and after your visit. Ticks are less prevelent if you stay on trail or in mowed areas. Wearing light colored clothing helps you spot them before the attach.

  • Firewood

    Outside firewood is prohibited in Prince William Forest Park, unless it is certified USDA 'bug free' firewood. Dead and downed wood may be collected from designated areas for use while in the park. Help us protect the forest from invasive species!

  • Visitor Center Remodel 2014

    Over the next several months there will be new changes coming to the Visitor Center. Presently we are remodeling the bookstore area to give it more of a country theme. Next the exibit area will get all new exhibits. Thank you for your patience and support

Poor House (1794-1928)

The Poor House Rememered
Artist's reconstruction of the Poor House around 1800.
The Louis Berger Group, Inc.

An interesting building in this area at the time was the Prince William County Poorhouse, which sat in the northwest corner of the park. The Poorhouse opened in 1794 and operated until 1927. By the late eighteenth century, the states had different ways to help the less fortunate. In colonial Virginia, charity was left to the Anglican Church, then recognized at the official church of the state. This status ended in 1785 with Virginia’s Statute for Religious Freedom. The commonwealth’s government insisted that counties make a centralized place to care for the poor, rather than providing door to door relief. The government appointed Overseers of the Poor, who in turn collected a Poor Tax. This was used to fund the poorhouse.

Almshouses were deliberately designed to be harsh, the bare minimum, to influence the poor to work hard to advance up the economic ladder. However, most of the occupants at the Prince William County Poorhouse were not capable fo working. At the same time, administrators only admited those who could not make a living for themselves. In 1858, only four of the seventeen residents were physically able to work. Those living int he poorhouse were buried in a nearby cemetery. In 1996, archeologists found thirty graves, only thirteen of which had headstones. The county provided coffins for the poor who did not live at the poorhouse.

Continue on to the Cabin Branch Community


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Did You Know?

Did You Know?

Prince William Forest Park protects the federally threatened orchid Isotria medeoloides, small whorled pogonia, of which several colonies have been identified in the park.