"Dealers In Slaves" The Building Is Now In Our Time Ironically-"The Headquarters Of The Northern Virginia Urban League"
Union Army guard at Price, Birch & Co. slave pen at Alexandria, Virginia, circa 1865. Detail of albumen print. Photograph by Andrew J. Russell: (Second Photo The building in 2010) Per building historian -during renovation, they found iron attachments in the basement that may have been used to anchor shackles.
Built in 1812 as a residence for General Andrew Young, this was the office building of the former interstate slave trading complex which stood on the site from 1828 to 1861. By 1835 Franklin and Armfield controlled nearly half the coastal slave trade from Virginia and Maryland to New Orleans. In 1846 the property was sold to a Franklin and Armfield agent, George Kephart, whose business became “the chief slave-dealing firm in [Virginia] and perhaps anywhere along the border between the Free and Slave States.” After 1858, the slave pen was known as Price, Birch, and Co., and their sign can be seen in a Civil War era photograph. The business was appalling to many, especially to active abolitionists in Alexandria, where the large Quaker population contributed to a general distaste for slavery. Several abolitionists’ accounts survive which describe the slave pen and the conditions encountered therein. Behind the house was a yard containing several structures, surrounded by a high, whitewashed brick wall. Male slaves were located in a yard to the west, while women and children were kept in a yard to the east, separated by a passage and a strong grated door of iron. The complex served as a Civil War prison from 1861 to 1865, and housed the Alexandria Hospital from 1878 to 1885. It was later apartments, and was renovated as offices in 1984.
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