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National Park Service grant will boost Freedom House restoration plans

Freedom House Museum, staff photo by Vernon Miles

A grant from the National Park Service (NPS) will help close the funding gap needed to restore Alexandria’s new Freedom House Museum.

Once a major hub for the slave trade, 1315 Duke Street reopened in May as a museum dedicated to telling the stories of those trafficked through the building. While the exhibits are open to the public, there is still significant work needed to be done to preserve the building.

The Save America’s Treasures grant from the NPS, awarded back in September, will help cover those costs.

“The $500,000 grant will be used to support the exterior restoration of the museum building, which was once the Alexandria Slave Pen, and the offices of several slave traders, including the notorious slave-trading firm, Franklin and Armfield,” the Office of Historic Alexandria said in a newsletter. “The overall preservation plan for the building includes re-pointing; repairing or replacing windows, doors, woodwork, and wood siding; improving the gutter and downspout system, and waterproofing the foundation.”

Exhibits in the museum include personal narratives, like a man freed from slavery in Texas who walked back to Alexandria, and archeological evidence such as items recovered from the yard behind the building.

The Office of Historic Alexandria said the grant will help preserve the building against weathering.

“These steps will seal the building envelope, correcting and preventing further degradation,” the newsletter said. “This work is prioritized based on a Historical Structure Report (HSR) conducted by SmithGroup in 2021 for Historic Alexandria.”

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