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Old Capitol Prison


The site of the Civil War prison at 1st and A Streets, NE which is now the site of the Supreme Court has an interesting history. It was originally acquired from the Carroll family to accommodate the U.S. Capitol. Located at 1st and A Streets NE in Washington, D.C., on the eastern slope of Capitol Hill, the site's first building was a red brick tavern and hostel called Stelle's Hotel, built around 1800. It was part of a neighborhood of rooming houses catering to the U.S. Congress

The old Capitol prison served as a temporary Capitol of the US from 1815 to 1819 after the Capitol was burned down by the British during the War of 1812.

With the start of the Civil War in 1861, the Union repurchased the building to use as a prison for captured Confederates, as well as political prisoners, Union officers convicted of insubordination, and local prostitutes. Many people arrested following the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln were also held here. These included Dr. Samuel Mudd (who was later pardoned by Andrew Jackson), Mary Surratt (who was later moved to the Washington Arsenal), Louis Weichmann, and John T. Ford, owner of Ford's Theater, where Lincoln was shot and a good friend of John Wilkes Booth. The adjoining row of houses, Duff Green's Row, was also used as part of the prison. Famous inmates of the prison included Rose Greenhow (a Confederate spy), Belle Boyd (a Confederate spy), John Mosby (pardoned by Ulysses Grant), and Henry Wirz, who was hanged in the yard of the prison for conspiracy and murder.

In 1867 the government sold the Old Capitol Prison in 1867 to George T. Brown, then sergeant-at-arms of the U.S. Senate, who modified the building into three row houses collectively known as "Trumbull's Row." In the 20th century, they were used as the headquarters of the National Woman's Party. In 1929, the site was acquired by eminent domain and the brick building was razed to clear the site for the U.S. Supreme Court building.

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