Richmond, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Slave Auction Site
To your left, around and behind you, were the cobble stone streets that led to the large, fashionable, brick hotels where dealers had their first floor offices and buyers rented upstairs rooms. The St. Charles Hotel, one of the major sales sites, was located on this corner. Adjacent was Bell Tavern (later known as the City Hotel) and nearby was the Exchange and Ballard hotels.
Public auctions were generally held in the biggest room on the first floor and a red flag would be raised above the roof to alert the buying public, and occasional European tourists, when a sales event was to occur.
Straight ahead and slightly to your right (but out of sight), were the slave holding facilities.
Located in the muddy valley of Shockoe Creek (now underground) they were reached by a maze of damp and smelly, small dirt alleyways. There were over 50 facilities in total, but Lumpkin’s Jail, known as the Devil’s Half Acre, was the largest and most infamous. It held the most severe slave jail for punishing runaway and recalcitrant slaves.
As part of the effort to understand the historical footprint of slavery in Richmond, an archaeological investigation is underway of this slave-holding facility and
Erected by a donation to the James River Park Fund by the students of St. Catherine’s Middle School.
Location. 37° 32.073′ N, 77° 25.836′ W. Marker is in Richmond, Virginia. Marker is at the intersection of East Main Street (U.S. 60) and 15th Street, on the right when traveling east on East Main Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Richmond VA 23219, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Reconciliation Statue (within shouting distance of this marker); Odd Fellows Hall (within shouting distance of this marker); Bell Tavern (within shouting distance of this marker); The Triangle (within shouting distance of this marker); Auction Houses (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Old State Capitol (about 500 feet away); The General Assembly of Virginia (about 500 feet away); Kahal Kadosh Beth Shalome (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Richmond.
Also see . . . In the Richmond Slave Market. An excerpt from Eyre Crowe’s 1893 With Thackeray in America “They consisted, I soon discovered, of low rooms, roughly white-washed, with worn and dirty flooring, open, as to doors and windows, to the street, which they lined in succession. The buyers clustered first in one dealer’s premises, then moved on in a body to the next store, till the whole of the tenants of these separate apartments were disposed of. The sale was announced by hanging out a small red flag on a pole from the doorway. On each of these was pinned a manuscript notice of the lot to be sold.” (Submitted on July 12, 2009.)
Categories. • African Americans • Antebellum South, US •
Credits. This page was last revised on April 4, 2017. This page originally submitted on July 12, 2009, by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia. This page has been viewed 2,208 times since then and 59 times this year. Last updated on March 31, 2017, by Steve Masler of Memphis, Tennessee. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on July 12, 2009, by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.