This website is intended to serve as a clearing house for information on surviving slave dwellings in Virginia and to provide a venue for promoting their preservation. The detailed physical and historical data will likely be most attractive to architectural historians and other scholars of material culture. Many will be more interested in the pictures depicting the physical remains associated with lives served in bondage. The bibliography, period sources, and other records are intended to provide a platform for anyone interested in delving more deeply into the subject matter. Most important, is the message: that these extraordinary buildings are often unrecognized for what they were, and are fragile and threatened by the forces of time, neglect, demolition, and development.
Beginning in 2007, Dr. Douglas W. Sanford and Dr. Dennis J. Pogue began what was envisioned as a long-term project to find and record slave dwellings throughout the state of Virginia. With the support of a collaborative research grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, they implemented a two-year pilot project, during which they recorded 30 buildings. With the assistance of students and many colleagues and others from around the state, that number has more than tripled in the years since.
The Virginia Slave Housing project was initiated with funding support from a National
Endowment for the Humanities Collaborative Research Grant (RZ-50619-06).
The University of Mary Washington Center for Historic Preservation was the institutional home of VSH from 2007 to 2017, and hosted the web page from 2009 to 2020. Students and staff of the UMW’s Department of Historic Preservation made substantive contributions to developing and maintaining the web site.