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[graphic] African American Historic Resources of Alexandria, Virginia, Multiple Property Submission
Moses Hepburn Rowhouses
Photo by Shannon Bell

Alexandria, Virginia's community of African Americans grew substantially from 1790, when 52 free blacks and 543 enslaved people lived in the bustling port, then one of the 10 busiest in the United States, to 1820 when 1,168 free blacks and 1,452 enslaved people constituted approximately 32 percent of the city's population. The historic places associated with Alexandria's community of African Americans nominated as components of this multiple property submission (MPS) reflect educational, residential and communal historical development in the city from pre-Civil War antebellum days to post-Civil War freedom.

Dr. Albert Johnson House (with black shutters) and George L. Seaton House
Photos by Shannon Bell
Some of the historic places reflect the fame of their owners. The Moses Hepburn Rowhouses at 206-212 North Pitt Street are associated with Moses Hepburn, a prominent black citizen and businessmen who had been born into slavery in 1809 and freed seven years later. Moses Hepburn rose to become a successful entrepreneur in the antebellum city through his ownership and development of various residential and commercial properties. He built the houses on North Pitt Street after purchasing the property in 1850, and he lived there until leaving for West Chester, Pennsylvania, in 1853. The Dr. Albert Johnson House, at 814 Duke Street, was the home of one of the city's first licensed black physicians. Dr. Johnson graduated from Howard University in 1892 and practiced medicine in Alexandria for 46 years. The George L. Seaton House, at 404 South Royal Street, is associated with the man of the same name who was a successful entrepreneur and property owner, as well as a civic and political leader in Alexandria throughout the mid-19th century. Located at the heart of “Hayti,” the second oldest black neighborhood in Alexandria, archeological investigation at the Seaton house has yielded some important artifacts which may represent the earliest record of material culture for free blacks in Alexandria.

Three churchs: Alfred Street Baptist Church (with blue sky), Beulah Baptist Church and Davis Chapel (with tree in front)
Photos by Shannon Bell

Religious places include the historic Alfred Street Baptist Church, originally built in 1855, which survives within "the Bottoms,” the oldest black neighborhood in Alexandria, and the Beulah Baptist Church, constructed in 1863, which served as the first contraband school in the city. The oldest black church building in the city, Davis Chapel, began in 1834 and had architectural changes until 1953. The Nat Turner rebellion interrupted the original construction of the church, which had to be moved to South Washington Street. Many prominent businessman and local leaders of the black community met here.

Odd Fellows Hall
Photo by Shannon Bell
The Odd Fellows Hall, located on the west side of South Columbus Street in “the Bottoms” is one of the only surviving buildings from the period 1790 to 1953 associated with communal organizations for African Americans. It has been the meeting hall for many secret organizations, benevolent groups and others established by and for African Americans. Closed to meetings in 1974, it has been converted into multiple-family housing.

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