Contrabands and Freedmens Cemetery

CLIENT

City of Alexandria, VA

LOCATION

Alexandria, VA

In 1987, Alexandria's city historians discovered that a Civil War-era burial ground lay beneath a gas station on a busy street in south Old Town. The burial ground held the remains of African Americans who fled slavery, but did not live long in freedom. Neglected and nearly forgotten, the burial ground was transformed in 2014 into a cemetery memorial. Today, the site commemorates Alexandria's enslaved community and reconnects the interred with their descendants, many of whom still live in Alexandria.

Working with landscape architect AECOM and sculptor Joanna Blake, H+R designed bas reliefs, 3D maps, grave markers, paving and a listing of the interred based on the only surviving record of those buried here—the Gladwin Record. "Living Descendant" markers are added when genealogical research reveals family connections.