HLF Plans Forum On Slave Dwellings

JUSTIN REID with Virginia Humanities takes measurements at the slave dwelling at White Hall in the Brownsburg area last fall. He will be among the state officials speaking at the Feb. 22 forum.

JUSTIN REID with Virginia Humanities takes measurements at the slave dwelling at White Hall in the Brownsburg area last fall. He will be among the state officials speaking at the Feb. 22 forum.

Historic Lexington Foundation will hold a public forum on “Documenting and Mapping Virginia Slave Dwellings” on Saturday, Feb. 22, at 2 p.m. in the Brady Chapel at Lexington Presbyterian Church.

Two officials from the Virginia Humanities, Justin Reid, director of community initiatives, and Peter Hedlund, director of the organization’s Encyclopedia Virginia, will lead the discussion.

They will be joined by Jobie Hill, a preservation architect and founder of “Saving Slave Houses,” a national program dedicated to the preservation of slave dwellings and to the education of the public about the structures. She was recently featured in magazines of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Smithsonian. The three toured four Brownsburg area slave dwellings in October.

The Virginia Humanities officials will show a six-minute film highlighting the work of Encyclopedia Virginia and the group’s African American Programs efforts to document slave dwelling across Virginia. Hill will talk about her work in Virginia and beyond. Additionally, participants will have the opportunity to view film footage of the Brownsburg visit taken by WBDJ reporter Bruce Young.

HLF director Don Hasfurther notes that while western Virginia has far fewer extant slave dwellings than Tidewater and Piedmont, they do exist as exemplified by the October visit to Brownsburg. “We regularly pass by these structures with no idea of their original purpose or reflection on the enslaved persons that occupied the structures,” he stated.

The Google Street View program provides Encyclopedia Virginia the opportunity to document the slave dwellings. As most are on private property and not accessible to the public, virtual tours provide that access. As noted in a statement by Virginia Humanities, “to virtually preserve these living spaces and give people access to them, we created Custom Street View imagery for tours of slave dwellings throughout Virginia.” Already documented on the Encyclopedia Virginia website are the slave dwellings at Buffalo Forge in Rockbridge County.

The event is free. HLF hopes that owners of extant slave dwellings or their ruins will attend the forum and

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