Washington DC’s Old Capitol…Prison

Following up on this week’s Libby Prison article, here’s one from the District.

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This is the Old Capitol Prison at First and A Sts NE, currently the site of the US Supreme Court.

Was it called the Old Capitol Prison because it was located in the capital city? Nope. It actually was used as the US Capitol Building after the original Capitol Building was burned during the British invasion of August 1814. Between 1815 and 1819, this building was host to all government activities until the Capitol was rebuilt on its original site between 1819-1826.

The building was used as a school and then a boarding house between 1819 and the beginning of the Civil War. The US government re-purchased the building for use as a prison for high-level Confederate prisoners. Well-known prisoners at the Old Capitol, also known as the Old Brick Capitol, included the “Gray Ghost” John Singleton Mosby, spymaster Rose O’Neal Greenhow aka “The Confederate Rose”, and Dr. “His Name is Mudd” Samuel Mudd. Colorful monikers were a thing in the 19th century!

The building was converted into rowhouses after the War and eventually torn down in 1929 to build the current Supreme Court building.

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