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THE TIGER AND THE TORCH ebook

Preface of Built by

Preface of Built by Blacks: African American Architecture & Neighborhoods in Richmond _________________________________________________________ “This book traces its origins to a visit to the offices of the Alliance to Conserve Old Richmond Neighborhoods (ACORN)108133 on a rainy Friday afternoon in late 2002 by two frantic residents of the Manchester area of south Richmond. The two warned that a small cottage on Commerce Road was scheduled to be demolished the following Monday. As evidence of the significance of the structure, they presented a copy of the original deed showing the conveyance of the house immediately after the Civil War to a black woman, who signed the document with an “X”. The ACORN staff felt that the woman, named Emily Winfree, may have once been a slave. The architecture of the house itself echoed a typical design of a slave quarters; a single-story frame dwelling of two rooms separated by a dividing wall and a central chimney serving both rooms. Initial research revealed that this was the lone surviving structure in what had been a thriving African American community in lower Manchester. In modern Richmond there is a scarcity of brick versions of this kind of home, let alone a frame example. ACORN saw the rescue of the Winfree Cottage as clearly in line with its mission and as an advocate for old Richmond neighborhoods and took steps to avert the eminent demolition of the house. The Richmond Slave Trail Commission assisted in the rescue by arranging to relocate the house to a vacant lot owned by the city at Seventeenth and Broad Streets. The crisis having passed, ACORN researchers began to investigate Winfree and her house. A remarkable story was revealed, opening a window onto little-known aspects of antebellum cultural history. The cottage did indeed belong to a former slave and was the sole survivor of the neighborhood she knew. Her onetime owner and the father of her five children, purchased the home for her for $800 in 1866. Winfree raised her children in one room of the tiny house while sometimes renting out the other room to make ends meet. Researchers discovered Emily Winfree’s prominent gravesite in Maury Cemetery in south Richmond and her photograph in the collection of the Library of Virginia. They studied the complicated and interwoven genealogy of the Winfree families, black and white. In this process of discovery, Winfree’s story unfolded and became emblematic of the experiences of thousands of Richmonders who populated the city before and after the Civil War.” 134 _________________________________________________________ THE TIGER & THE TORCH Page | 83

PAST, PRESENT & FUTURE MEET IN CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA & MONTICELLO Walkway Stone on the UVA Campus: Image Credit: uvamagzine.org 135 Unearthing the hundreds of years of the experiences of enslaved people before and after the Civil War is an opportunity to fill in critical gaps in African American History. Monticello 136 and the University of Virginia (UVA) 137 in Charlottesville, VA were centuries in the making. Yet, it has not been until recently that they began to do more research and start publicizing the lives of the many African Americans involved in building those places. To begin formally acknowledging the significant role Africans Americans had, there is now a permanent stone in a walkway on the UVA campus. An article in UVA Magazine entitled “Unearthing Slavery” 138 talks about how both organizations began researching their full history and how that stone in the walkway came into existence. The combined significance of the lives of the people who lived and came through these places, in conjunction with the architectural significance of the structures themselves affirms one of the many reasons why Monticello and UVA are on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage List. 139 This designation places local history on a global platform and broadens the discussion of how African American history connects abroad. THE TIGER & THE TORCH Page | 84