Did you know Richmond’s last remaining slave cottage was once located in Manchester at the block bounded by Porter and Commerce Rd?
After reading a fascinating post by Seldan Richardson in the The Shockoe Examiner about the Emily Winfree Cottage (it is worth the read), I decided to take a hike down to the Lumpkins jail site to check it out. I hadn’t been down to see the cottage in a few years, and I was curious to see what it looked like with my own eyes. Thankfully, some recent work has been done to preserve the structure. That is definitely good news as the cottage was in rough shape back in 2011 according to the Historical Marker Database image below.
Apparently, the Emily Winfree Cottage was at risk of being demolished in 2002. In an attempt to save it, the now defunct Alliance to Conserve Old Richmond Neighborhoods (A.C.O.R.N.) relocated the cottage to the Lumpkin’s Jail site in Shockoe Bottom. According to the blog site History Replay Today:
“ACORN intended it to go on the Richmond’s Slave Trail and in 2004 Richmond City Council passed resolution 2004-272-256, authorizing land at 1621 Broad St near the corner of Crane and Broad St just north of the Downtown Richmond Farmer’s Market to be used as a permanent site. It was soon realized that site which is a parking lot right now, was not suitable. So since it was saved from destruction at its Manchester location where it sat since at least 1866, the cottage has lived as a nomad on the trailer as it awaits a piece of Earth to be settled into permanently.”
The 2008 video interview below of A.C.O.R.N.’s David Herring gives further details of the cottage and hangups with the city that have hindered finding it a permanent location:
Unfortunately, this important part of American history has sat for nearly 15 years at the Lumpkin’s Jail site in what seems like a perpetual state of limbo. Let’s hope a plan is put forth soon by the City to give this modest, yet important structure the proper home it deserves. A huge shoutout to Seldan Richardson is in order for raising awareness about the cottage’s link to Manchester, and reminding us that this historically significant building is still waiting for a new home.