Freedom House Museum
1315 Duke Street
The Freedom House Museum was once part of the headquarters for the largest domestic slave trading firm in the United States, Franklin and Armfield. Enslaved people were brought from the Chesapeake Bay area and forced to the slave markets in Natchez, Mississippi and New Orleans either by foot or ship.
The building is currently owned by the Northern Virginia Urban League and together with the Office of Historic Alexandria, we invite you to visit the museum in this historic reminder of slavery.
- Friday and Saturday, 1-5 p.m.
- Check this page for any changes in the weekly schedule.
- See the
Calendar for special programs and tours.
Admission is $5 per person. Tickets can be purchased at the door.
Admission includes a powerful exhibit in the basement of the building, which was once part of a larger complex used by the slave trading firm Franklin and Armfield. Through first-person accounts of enslaved men and women and details from the business, encounter the harsh reality of the domestic slave trade and Alexandria's role.
- Plan at least 45 minutes for your visit.
- The museum is recommended for ages 8+.
- Please note that the majority of the exhibit is down a flight of stairs in the basement of this historic building.
Tours for seven or more should contact 703.746.4736 at least one week in advance to arrange a time to visit. Groups are typically scheduled to visit before or after public hours.
Visit the Freedom House Museum on a Google 360
Virtual Tour, courtesy of Virginia Humanities.
Volunteer at Freedom House. Help is currently needed with visitor services. Fill out the
volunteer application, selecting the second activity, "Give tours of the Black History Museum, Freedom House Museum and African American Heritage Park."
The Franklin and Armfield Slave Pen at 1315 Duke Street was one of the largest slave trading companies in the country and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The three-story brick building with mansard roof was built as the residence of Robert Young, Brigadier General of the second Militia of the District of Columbia. By 1828, it was leased by Isaac Franklin and John Armfield and used as a "Negro Jail" or slave pen for slaves being shipped from Northern Virginia to Louisiana. Franklin and Armfield were active until 1836, exporting over 3,750 slaves to cotton and sugar plantations in the Deep South. Later, other firms continued trading in slaves here. A sign seen in Civil War period photographs has the name of Price, Birch & Co. During the Civil War the building and its surrounding site were used as a military prison for deserters, the L'Ouverture Hospital for black soldiers and the barrack for contraband-slaves who fled the confederate states and sought refuge with Union troops.
News and Information
- They were once America’s cruelest, richest slave traders. Why does no one know their names? By Hannah Natanson, The Washington Post, September 14, 2019.
- City of Alexandria Awarded National Trust for Historic Preservation Grant to Support Freedom House Museum. Alexandria has received a $50,000 planning grant from the
National Trust for Historic Preservation’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund.
- Alexandria council loans $63,000 to stabilize slave-trading museum, by Patricia Sullivan, Washington Post, February 13, 2018. The Alexandria City Council unanimously agreed to make a $63,000 interest-free loan and donate the time and talents of city historians to help save a financially struggling museum housed on the site of the largest slave-trading operation in the pre-Civil War United States.
- Alexandria council to vote on rescue plan for Freedom House slavery museum, by Patricia Sullivan, The Washington Post, February 12, 2018.
- ‘Like we descended from Hitler’: Coming to terms with a slave-trading past, by Patricia Sullivan, The Washington Post, February 8, 2018 describes how descendants of the slave trader Isaac Franklin tried to make amends in Alexandria, VA.
- "A Loathsome Prison:” Slave Trading in Antebellum Alexandria is a lesson plan for teachers.
- Archaeological excavations took place at the site in the 1980s, and the
site report includes additional history.
To purchase tickets to events at the Freedom House Museum, and to shop online, visit
The Alexandria Shop.
Contact the Museum