The Historic “Freedom House Museum” 187-Year-Old Slave Trade Landmark Suffers Damage in Record Cold and Snow Aftermath

02/23/2015 10:48 PM | Anonymous

Press Release

Alexandria, VA— The Historic Freedom House Museum in the heart of Alexandria’s Old Town downtown district suffered structural damage as a result of the recent record sub-zero temperatures and snow. This 187 year old African-American historical landmark once saw thousands of men, women, and children pass through its walls on a harrowing journey to a life of bondage and hard labor in the Deep South to enrich slave traders and slave holders, as was depicted in the Oscar nominated film, “12 Years A Slave.”

Dating back to 1828, this building served as the headquarters of Franklin Armfield and CO. and housed the largest domestic slave trading company in the country. Today, the museum serves as an important educational reminder of this history and is home to the Northern Virginia Urban League (NOVAUL).

NOVAUL is one of 94 affiliates of the National Urban League, the nation's oldest and largest community-based movement devoted to empowering minorities and disadvantaged others to enter and succeed in the social and economic mainstream.   NOVAUL owns and maintains the museum, which was secured with the assistance of now retired Virginia Congressman Jim Moran.

According to an Alexandria Patch article published on February 26, 2013 (http://patch.com/virginia/oldtownalexandria/video-rep-moran-tours-freedom-house), former U.S. Representative Jim Moran stated, "It's important to know history. There's a large African-American population in the schools here whose ancestors probably experienced slavery, and they experience freedom. ... The people in Alexandria often don't understand how the city became what it is today." The building is dedicated to Rev. Lewis Henry Bailey, a former slave who was freed in 1863 and returned to Alexandria, where he founded several churches and schools. "It's a place to be ashamed of what went on, but it's important to understand what went on to right this injustice," Moran said.

“The damage to the structure places in jeopardy, over a century of history which is critical not only to Alexandria, but also the DC metro community, our nation, and the world. We hope that people, preservationists, neighbors, and friends will partner with us to preserve this national historical landmark and treasure,” said Cynthia Dinkins, CEO of NOVAUL.

The museum houses slave trade artifacts and depicts the harrowing experience of individuals held in bondage, sold as property and waiting transport. Men, women, and children were held in the historic Freedom House maintained to honor their sacrifice and suffering.

Media outlets are invited to capture footage of the museum. The Freedom House will be opened again to visitors as repairs and safety checks are completed. For more information, please contact Cynthia Dinkins at c.dinkins@nvul.org.

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 The Northern Virginia Urban League (NOVAUL) is a non-profit, nonpartisan, multi-ethnic, social service organization. Our mission is to enable minorities and disadvantaged others to secure economic self-reliance, parity, power and civil rights through program services and advocacy. Established in 1990, NOVAUL is one of 94 affiliates of the National Urban League, the nation's oldest and largest community-based movement devoted to empowering minorities to enter and succeed in the social and economic mainstream. For more information, visit www.nvul.org.

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