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Alexandria seeking public input on next steps for the Freedom House Museum

Freedom House Museum (staff photo by Vernon Miles)

Within what was once a major hub for the trafficking of enslaved people, the building reopened as the new Freedom House Museum earlier this year. Now, the City of Alexandria is opening up next steps for the property to public discussion.

The Office of Historic Alexandria (OHA) is working on a master plan for the site, weighing options for everything from a name change and exhibit specifications to a discussion of the museum’s overall mission.

A survey about the site is available online and closes on Jan. 13.

“The Office of Historic Alexandria is engaging with the community to create the Master Plan for the Freedom House Museum at 1315 Duke Street.” OHA said in a release. “This site is what remains of a large complex devoted to trafficking thousands of Black men, women, and children from 1828-1861.”

The OHA started working with the Urban League of Northern Virginia in 2018 and the city purchased the building in 2020. It reopened in May with three floors of temporary exhibits and a new focus on telling the stories of Black people brought through the building rather than the stories of the white slavers.

The OHA said it will host a series of public meetings to engage in dialogue about the site’s future.

“The Master Plan will provide a road map for the future use, interpretation, and preservation of the site,” the OHA said. “Through a series of public meetings, we hope to engage in a dialogue about the site’s mission, potential name change, interpretive focus, and role in the community. The intent is to have the stories told at 1315 Duke Street complement those told at the Alexandria Black History Museum and across historic sites in Alexandra.”