Extant/reconstructed slave quarters
From: "Phillip Troutman" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This is a slightly updated list of extant slave dwellings open to the
public, drawn in large part from submissions from this list-serv
(thank you to respondents).
This list is for reference (not evaluative) purposes, so my
guidelines are simply that:
(1) a site have largely original structure(s)
(2) preferably in original locations, and
(3) preferably open to the public in some way.
Many have been restored with historical methods, some with
not-so-historical methods; many stand as modified over the years;
some were moved historically (cabins often were) or moved to save
them more recently; some are interpreted on-site (to varying degrees
and of varying quality), some are not.
[Note: I use NPS terms: Preservation means stabilizing a building
its extant condition, perhaps with structural restoration work.
Restoration means bringing an extant building to its appearance for
particular time (this may overlap or be coterminous with
preservation, esp. if the bldg. has not been changed over time);
preferably this is done with historical building techniques.
Reconstruction is building from whole cloth, preferably from
site-specific archaeological, documentary, and oral history
information, but sometimes generic or conjectural. Rehabilitation
when an old building has been refitted for new purposes, e.g., a
smokehouse now used for a public restroom.]
Many of the comments below are from list members; I have checked
websites (but not any of the other info) and included some quotations
from sites' websites. Listed first are sites with ensembles of
buildings rather than single buildings.
I will continue to revise this list, perhaps eventually posting it on
the web, so please keep sending me references if you have them, along
with any information you would want posted to a list or on the web.
I know there are many many plantation houses open to the public in
Miss. and Louisiana that are not listed here. If you know of
with slave (or later, tenant) houses or work buildings, please let
First, an exception, with no extant slave dwellings:
Levi Jordan Plantation, Brazoria County, TX.
The slave (later tenant) houses are NOT extant, but I make an
exception to the list here because of the extensive archaeological
and historical information posted on their website:
They offer tours
periodically (see website for announcements & contact info).
Evergreen Plantation, LA:
From the website: "Over the decades, the most serious change
Evergreen as a plantation complex has been the extensive fabric
replacement evident in the slave quarters. Some noteworthy original
features, such as chimneys, shutters, and doors remain, but nearly
150 years of patching, repairs, and reconstruction have caused
alterations. It is surprising that these quarters, retaining their
original appearance and double row configuration, have survived at
all. There is very little documentation on these buildings, although
it is clear that they are indeed antebellum. The 1860 census lists
Lezin Becnel and his brother, the then owners of the plantation, as
having 103 slaves in 48 dwellings. The only known historic map of the
plantation is the Mississippi River Commission map of 1876, which
shows 22 cabins in the same configuration and location.
Evergreen Plantation, a National Historic Landmark, is located on
State Hwy. 18, in Wallace. The house is open to the public, but only
by arranging a tour with either the New Orleans Tours company
(504-592-0560) or Airboat Adventures (504-382-8767)."
Frogmore Plantation, LA.
"An 1800-acre working cotton plantation, Frogmore has eighteen
restored buildings that date from the early 1800's. . . .
Authentically furnished slave row cabins dating to 1810."
Magnolia Plantation near Natchez LA, part of Cane River Creole
National Historic Park. "Park Service tours of the slave
are free. The eight mud-brick slave cabins, originally duplexes and
later single-family dwellings, eventually will be restored. Two are
open to the public. Cane River Creole National Historical Park,
La. 494, Natchez, La. For tour appointments or information, call
318-352-0383, or the heritage area office, 318-356-5555. (Also check
the park's Web site, www.nps.gov/cari/)
For Magnolia slave quarters,
call the park and arrange to meet a park ranger at the Magnolia
Plantation Store. Take I-49 to Exit 120 (Derry/Gorum Exit), go east
on La. 119 about two miles until you come to the Magnolia Plantation
"The eight intact brick cabins at Magnolia are a rare surviving
example of a masonry slave village. Built in the 1840s to house
families each, and originally numbering twenty-eight, these
saddlebag-style quarters had wooden floors and cypress-shingled
roofs. Other cabins were built of wood construction. There were a
total of 70 cabins on the plantation."
Boone Hall Plantation, near Charleston, SC, has what are called
only surviving "slave street" in the Southeastern US.
Contact them only via the website.
[Troutman's comments:] Historic Stagville, near Durham, NC, is
state historic site, has the only original field slave houses open
the public in NC, but they are somewhat atypical in quality:
two-story four-room timber-frame houses, elevated off ground, with
brick nogging for insulation (constructed 1850s). They were atypical
even for this plantation (though this reconstruction project appears
to have been the start of a longer-term plan); in 1860 there were 55
slave houses, only 7 known like this, and 1 other 1-story but similar
P.O. Box 71217
Durham, NC 27722-1217
[Troutman's comments:] Somerset Place, near Creswell, NC, another
state historic site, has a mixture of reconstructed & some orig.
slave houses & work buildings forming the big-house compound; they
are reconstructing houses along the slave row as well.
2572 Lake Shore Road
Creswell, NC 27928
Phone: (252) 797-4560
Fax: (252) 797-4171
LSU's Rural Life Museum at Baton Rouge. "The Working Plantation
consists of a complex of buildings - commissary, overseer's house,
kitchen, slave cabins, sick house, schoolhouse, blacksmith's shop,
sugar house, and grist mill - authentically furnished to replicate
all the major activities of life on a typical 19th century working
plantation." (unclear whether these are moved from elsewhere or orig.
or reconstr., or just what, but they appear to be older buildings,
not new constructions) http://rurallife.lsu.edu/html/plant.html
For more information call (225)765-2437 or e-mail email@example.com.
main page http://rurallife.lsu.edu/
but the links don't work.
[Troutman's comments:] Smithfield Plantation, Blacksburg, VA,
1.5 story log cabin built in part from the logs of a cabin thought
have once been a 1840s slave cabin from another segment of the
plantation. The logs are numbered, so it may have been moved
number of times. The current version was built to resemble a
story cabin (possibly a kitchen) known to have been near the
Smithfield house and is currently known as "The Weaver's Cabin."
Colonial Williamsburg's Carter's Grove is a totally reconstructed
slave quarter site representing the 18th c.,
"Note: Carter's Grove will be closed for a two-year assessment of the
property, grounds, and programs beginning January 2, 2003.
Interpretation of rural slave family life will relocate to Palace
Farms in the Historic Area."
[from a listserv member:] Not all slave quarters were as attractive
as the typical sites you mentioned Williamsburg, etc.)
Canadian film company wants some interesting and authentic slave
cabins, they might want to contact J.O.K. (called jock) Walsh at the
Caroline County Historical society in Denton, Maryland. The society
has restored a known slave cabin, and have recently purchased another
for restoration. They are as authentic as they come for slave
Upper South, construction. Harriet Tubman's parents lived in
Caroline County when she ran away, and it assumed that they lived in
a cabin similar to the ones the county is now restoring. Just
thought I would pass the info along - especially if the film company
intends to deal with Tubman and her efforts to bring away her family
and friends from the Eastern Shore of Maryland to Canada.
The ones in Caroline County were constructed by the slaves
themselves, of rough hewn logs and plastered with a mortar made of
oyster shells. And they are small, too, not substantial two story
dwellings. I know the preservation/historical society people
Caroline County have identified several more slave dwellings, but
have been unsuccessful so far in purchasing them from current
Caroline County Historical Society
P.O. Box 514
Denton, Maryland 21629
Museum of Rural Life
16 North Second Street
Denton, Maryland 21629
Hours: Limited - Call first
J.O.K. Walsh - 410-479-0274
12 North Second Street
Denton, Maryland 21629
Bellamy Mansion, NC:
"Behind the Bellamy mansion stands one of the best preserved
examples of an urban slave quarters in the United States." Located
at the corner of
5th Avenue & Market Street
Kingsley Plantation includes "the plantation house, a kitchen
a barn, and the ruins of 25 of the original slave cabins."
[a list serv member:] "There are tabby-shell slave quarters at
Kingsley Plantation on Fort George Island, FL that are part of the
state park system and there has been archaeology done at them. They
are right on a water inlet and would make ideal filming since the
terrain looks much like it did in the 18th c when Africans were unloaded
[email from site managers:] Hewn-Timber Cabins, ca. 1836, are
on Francis Marion University campus, six miles east of Florence,
South Carolina, and 200 yards from Highway 76/301, on Wallace Woods
Road (Gate Six). These are two of eight cabins that were built by
African Americans to house African-American slaves who were brought
to this farm to raise cotton. The quality of the woodcraft,
especially the full-dovetailed corners, shows that the builders were
skilled craftsmen who took pride in their work. The cabins are
the National Register of Historic Places.
The exterior of the two hewn-timber cabins can be seen at all hours.
Currently, the cabins are open for visitors only on the second
Wednesday of the month from 10:30 AM to 2:30 PM (weather permitting).
To confirm this schedule or to make an appointment to see the cabins,
contact Karl McAlister, (843) 661-1311. For people who visit
cabins when they are closed, there is a sign outside each house with
pictures showing what is inside. The signs also have a wealth
information--from small details like how Ms. Catherine made lye
soap--to the big picture, like where in Africa their ancestors may
have originated. Visitors are encouraged to send their comments
evaluation of the signs to Karl McAlister, KMcAlister@fmarion.edu.
For information, see http://www.fmarion.edu/htc
"A Visit to Ms. Catherine's House" shows what life was like when Mr.
and Ms. Waiters lived there from the 1930s to the 1950s.
"African-American Life in the Hewn-Timber Houses" gives a brief
history of the cabins and shows artifacts displayed in the cabins.
Waveland State Historic Site, Lexington KY
[list-serv member:] There are a number of standing slave buildings
and rooms within buildings
that are interpreted to varying degrees of success.
1. The Hermitage, Nashville, Tn, Andrew Jackson's first log house was
converted to slave housing after the mansion was built in 1821. These
buildings are currently undergoing restoration, but if they contact
2. Carnton Plantation, Franklin, Tn, a two story brick building
rooms interpreted as slave housing.
3. The Carter House, Franklin, Tn, Log building somewhat interpreted
slave cabin, moved to the site from another plantation in the 70s.
4. Rippavilla Plantation, Columbia, Tn, frame slave house on
the back 40 of
an interpreted plantation museum. Great little building in serious
5. Both Monticello and Poplar Forest have slave rooms in the
wings that Jefferson like to add to his houses. The wing at Poplar
currently under reconstruction, and the cook's room at Monticello is
interpreted that way, though typically there is no on-going first person
interpretation at either site.
A few cabins are still standing at Laura Plantation, Vacherie,
Mount Vernon (Alexandria, Virginia) (Geo. Washington's home);
slave quarters and living history.
Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest, http://www.poplarforest.org,
rebuilding the service wing, which is similar to that at Monticello,
both utterly atypical. Monticello also
has one or two buildings once slave quarters or work areas, on
Mulberry Row, & is considering rebuilding others, pending a research
James Monroe's Highlands / Ash Lawn, near Monticello.
has one surviving slave quarters building.
Greenfield Village in Dearborn Michigan has two relocated slave
houses from the Hermitage in GA:
Hampton Plantation, which is part of the Ridgley Estate in
Baltimore County, Maryland. It is a part of the National Park
system of parks. (Has substantial slave quarters buildings of
& one highly modified (large glass windows) log cabin).
[a list serv member:] The Sam Davis Home in Smyrna TN has several
buildings that were moved there from another plantation back in the
60s. They know there were something like 14 slave houses on the plantation
in the 1850 census, and took 3 log cabins from the other site and use them
in children's programs on slavery. On a day to
day basis most of the sites across the volunteer state do not have
interpretation. There are small signs on rooms or in front of houses
general public to read. I found in my wanderings across the state that
interpretation programs are usually for kids.
Contact for info: Bethany Hawkins
Phone: 615. 459. 2341
Fax: 615. 459. 2341
[list serv member:] Mallory-Neely house in Memphis. They can't
take the tours to the slave rooms because they are in the basement,
talk about slaves being the moving force for the running of the house
reason the owners were wealthy. They have very few documents related
slaves, but use them in a slavery program for children.
[list serv member:] Belmont Mansion in Nashville TN: The
in the basement are not accessible.
[list serv member:] Belle Meade Plantation in Belle Meade, TN
(outside Nashville) recently also
reconstructed a slave cabin from another site. I believe they were
doing some interpretation there, but had not heard before I left the
They are on the web, as are all these sites if you want to contact
[list serv member:] vThe Isaac Royall House in Medford,
Massachusetts, includes quarters for
enslaved servants and has hosted living history programs on their lives.
This building is said to be one of the very few surviving buildings
for slaves in the Northeast U.S. It of course predates the Underground
Railroad, and for that matter railroads.
[list serv member:] Historic Hudson Valley's Philipsburg Manor
reconstruction in Sleepy Hollow (aka
North Tarrytown) has developed interpretive programs concerning "aspects
the history of colonial New York and the system of racially-based slavery
which helped keep the estate running in the 18th century." See the
which has side-links on
establishing slavery in colonial NY
http://www.hudsonvalley.org/pinkster/index.html, and Cuffee and the
conspiracy trial http://www.hudsonvalley.org/web/cuffee.html
(the last is
undated but appears to be a theatrical retelling from 2001)
An article about B&Bs using slave quarters, with links:
Photos from Historic American Building Survey (click on "Slave
John Michael Vlach's online exhibit "Back of the Big House" (and
course his book by the same name):
And, interestingly, in South Africa:
[list serv member:]
In South Africa, the oldest and only extant slave quarters are known
SLAVE LODGE, presently housing the South African Cultural History Museum,
which displays the oldest cultural history collection of artifacts
country, at 49 Adderley Street, near the entrance of the public
Gardens, Cape Town.
The SLAVE LODGE is :
+ the only surviving Dutch East India VOC slave quarters of its kind
world; during the first 170 + years of its existence from 1679
it housed about 500 VOC company owned slaves and up to 1000 VOC
owned slaves at its peak;
+ was the largest 'plantation-type' slave quarters in South Africa when
Cape of Good Hope colony was a slave holding society from the 1650's
+ only VOC institutional enterprise which had its own ships dedicated
importation of African slaves along the East Coast of Africa e.g. Mocambique
+ slaves were imported from West Coast of Africa initially, thereafter
India and Batavia, and later from Madagascar, and Mocambique, etc.;
+ it has been recommended as the focal point of the local UNESCO
'Trans-Indian Ocean slave trade route' for the South African chapter;
+ probably incorporating the comprehensive register of company slaves
VOC bandieten [sentenced convicts] i.e. the slave residents of the
LODGE which has been compiled by a UCT researcher, Linda Duvenage
collaboration with the Iziko Museums of Cape Town, especially by the
of the SLAVE LODGE;
Enquiries : Dr Helene VOLLGRAAF
Tel No : 2721-464-1268
Fax No : 2721-460-8202
Website : http://www.museums.org.za/sachm/
Resident SLAVE LODGE professional archeaologist : Dr G Abrahams-Willis
Related SACHM publication :
VOLLGRAAFF, Helene  : "The Dutch East India Company's Slave Lodge
the Cape", South African Cultural History Museum [SACHM] publication,
1-875045-26-0, Cape Town, RSA
Other SLAVE LODGE related articles :
i] SHELL, Robert C-H  : " From diaspora to diorama : the UNESCO
feasibility study for the cultural amplication of the memory of slavery
the slave trade in Southern Africa, part one : THE LODGE", in the Quarterly
Bulletin of the National Library of South Africa , Vol 54, No. 2, December
1999, ppn 44-56;
ii]ABRAHAMS-WILLIS, Gabeba  : "Slave Lodge to become a major tourism
magnet - preliminary report on year 2000 excavations",
in the Quarterly
Bulletin of the National Library of South Africa , Vol 54, No. 4, June
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Phillip Troutman, Mellon Lecturing Fellow, Duke University
Writing Program, Box 90025, Bell Tower 3, Durham, NC 27708
firstname.lastname@example.org, fx919.660.4372, http://www.duke.edu/~trout
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
End of SLAVERY Digest - 8 Aug 2003 to 11 Aug 2003 (#2003-86)