Thursday, February 25, 2021

Get Out! And Take a Self-Guided Walking Tour of Duke Street's Black History Trail in Old Town Alexandria

by Peggy Robin

On the last weekend of Black History Month, here’s a fascinating, FREE outdoor activity, perfect for safe social distancing, plus a bit of exercise, and a lot of enlightenment: 

GREAT WALKS IN ALEXANDRIA: Duke Street Black History Trail

Old Town’s Duke Street corridor is rich with historical significance, embedded with hidden narratives and plenty of plaques for the eagle-eyed passerby:

  • Begin at the Edmonson Sisters sculpture (1701 Duke St.), a tribute to two teenage sisters who were born into slavery and attempted escape, later becoming vocal and visible abolitionists. The piece was sculpted by bronze work artist Erik Blome.
  • Steps away, find the Bruin Slave Jail, where the sisters were held, for a further reckoning of Alexandria’s role in the domestic slave trade.
  • See Freedom House Museum, once the headquarters for one of the nation’s largest internal slave trading firms and now a site sharing the stories of those who passed through it.
  • Take a detour onto Prince St. to see the plaque for L’Ouverture Hospital, which served Black soldiers and those escaping enslavement during the Civil War.
  • Stop by Alfred Street Baptist Church, Alexandria’s oldest African American congregation, founded in the early 19th century within its first Black neighborhood, called “The Bottoms.”
  • Then, visit  Shiloh Baptist Church, one of the city’s oldest active churches. Drawing its name from a biblical term for “place of peace,” the church was formed as an oasis during the Civil War for the formerly enslaved.
  • End your journey at African American Heritage Park  and linger by the bronze tree memorial titled “Truths that Rise from the Roots – Remembered,” created by Jerome Meadows and carved with the names of Black Alexandrians who shaped the city.
    Freedom House Museum on the Duke Street Black History Trail

To view the walking map for the self-guided tour – as well as other free, self-guided walking tours of Alexandria, go to: 


The “Get Out” (or “Stay In”) events column is posted on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Thursdays.  

No comments:

Post a Comment