Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial Construction

The Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial opened in September 2014. Visit the Memorial at S. Washington and Church Streets, and explore photo galleries from the Memorial's construction.

Page updated on Jan 15, 2020 at 3:26 PM

The Memorial was dedicated on Saturday, September 6, 2014. 

Artwork and Inscriptions (May 2014)

Artwork has been installed and inspirational inscriptions have been etched in stone blocks and bronze panels.

  Freedmens orientation panel 

Freedmens Jacobs plaque 

Freedmens Names Wall 
Memorial orientation panel. Click for larger view.  Harriet Jacobs bronze plaque. Click for larger view.  Names of those buried in the cemetery.

Freedmens walls and fretwork 

   Memorial Walls with Fretwork 

   Freedmens walls and fretwork with statue 

Memorial walls with fretwork. Memorial walls with fretwork and bronze plaque. Memorial walls with names plaque and fretwork.
  Freedmens Descendants icon  Freedmens Bas Relief with Overwhelmed Inscription  Freedmens Bronze Bas Relief 
Descendant icon markers. Click for larger view.   Bas relief with text. Click on image for panel text.  Bas relief by artist Joanna Blake.
Freedmens Jacobs statue base    Freedmens view to the Northwest    
Harriet Jacobs quote on statue base. Click for larger view.   View to the Northwest  


Grave Markers (May 2014)

Stones mark the locations of 540 graves identified by archaeologists. The cemetery held nearly 1,200 additional graves.

Freedmens Adult Grave Markers, May 2014 

Freedmens Childs Graves, May 2014 

  Freedmens lawn with markers 

Adult grave. Child graves. Lawn with grave markers.

Freedmens grave explanation marker 

  Freedmens grave markers and explanation 

  Freedmens view to Church Street May 2014 

Explanation of grave markers. Click for larger view.  Grave markers with explanation. View toward Church Street.


Stonework Panels (February 2014)

Stonework for the Memorial walls, walkways and entry gate has now been completed. 

Freedmens Cemetery Gate 

Freedmens Gatepost 

Freedmens Memorial Walls 

Cemetery Gate Gatepost Memorial Wall

Freedmens Panel Wall 

Freedmens Panel Walls 






Panel Wall Panel Walls  


Wrought Iron Arch (February 2014)

The wrought iron arched sign atop the main gate to Freedmen’s Cemetery was installed on February 27, 2014. 

Freedmens Cemetery Gate 

  Freedmens Arch Ironwork 

Cemetery Gate Wrought Iron Arch

  Freedmens Gate from interior 

  Freedmens Arch Ironwork 

Gateway from Interior of the Memorial Another View of the Arch


Fence (February 2014)

Wrought iron fencing has been installed to protect the Freedmen’s Cemetery and the Memorial, echoing the ghost of the original wooden picket fence which long ago vanished from the site.

Freedmens Fencing 

  Freedmens Fence Corner 

Wrought iron fencing. Fencing at the corner of the Cemetery.


Statue: The Path of Thorns and Roses (February 2014)

The memorial sculpture, The Path of Thorns and Roses, is by California based artist Mario Chiodo. Chiodo was selected after a national search to design and create the sculpture. The larger-than-life figurative sculpture captures what the artist envisioned the emotions of the Contrabands and Freedmen would have been at various stages of their Journey.

  Freedmens Statue: The Path of Thorns and Roses 

  Freedmens Statue Shadow 

Freedmens Statue Installation 

The Path of Thorns and Roses, by Mario Chiodo. Note the delicacy of the shadow cast by the statue. Installing the statue, July 25, 2013.


Bas Relief (February 2014)

Two bas relief panels by artist Joanna Blake will honor those buried at the Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery.

Freedmen's Bas Relief 

Bas Relief, by artist Joanna Blake.


Grave Markers (February 2014)

 Grave markers, some outlining the coffin shapes below, have been installed across the cemetery to identify known burial sites.

  Freedmens Markers, coffin shaped 

  Freedmens Grave Markers 

  Freedmens Grave Markers, another view 

Grave markers in the shape of coffins. Grave markers. The original pathway location was also confirmed archaeologically. Stones mark the location of known burial sites.


Other Features (February 2014)

Sidewalk Circle, frame for interpretive signs, and site of the former office building.

Freedmens Sidewalk Circle 

  Freedmens Interpretive Sign Frame 

  Office Building Site 

Ground plane granite markers in the brick sidewalk adjacent to the Freedmen’s Cemetery point passersby towards the Memorial. Frames for have been installed on the sidewalk surrounding the Cemetery to hold interpretive panels which will explain the historical significance of the site. The site of the former entrance to the office building built atop the Freedmen’s Cemetery is now rebuilt as a viewing platform.