“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Richmond, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

Davenport Trading Company

The Last Building Known to have been used in the Slave Trade

Davenport Trading Company Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, March 5, 2011
1. Davenport Trading Company Marker
Inscription. Click to hear the inscription.  The brick structure before you once held the Davenport Trading Company. While it was primarily a dry goods business, it also functioned as a general auction site. This included farm animals, equipment …and slaves. The large open area on the first floor, usually filled with barrels of flour, bacon and cloth, could be easily cleared for crowds that gathered to watch the sale of human beings. Although located in the heart of the slave trading district, this was not a major sales site. Those took place in the large hotels along Main St, one block north of here. (There is an interpretive sign about this located at 15th and Main St.)

Richmond was one of the major trading sites in the nation for the sale of enslaved people. It also had the reputation for being the most crude and degrading. Local on-lookers and even curious travelers from Europe, came to view the spectacle.

• Prospective buyers might jam their fingers into a man’s mouth to inspect the teeth or strip him almost naked to check for injuries or signs of punishment. Women would not be publicly stripped, but might be intimately and embarrassingly inspected. There could
Davenport Building Condo Renovation image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, March 5, 2011
2. Davenport Building Condo Renovation
be no objection.

• Women with small children would be auctioned off together, but older children might well be sold separately. The walls would echo with the screams of protest, tears and pleading. It was a dramatic, sensual and cruel entertainment.

• Light skinned and particularly attractive teenage girls would be sold separately in less public settings. They fetched high prices as mistresses … or for short, high value lives as prostitutes.

The building still looks pretty much as it did when constructed in the 1830’s. Although it was gutted by fire in 1891, the interior was re-constructed and pieces of the exterior walls can be seen to have been repaired. The brick arches — where wagons once entered the main room — are original. Old and historic, the structure is still sound. It is now being renovated and developed for upscale apartments.

Sign funded by the students of The New Community School
Erected by The New Community School.
Location. This marker has been replaced by another marker nearby. 37° 32.015′ N, 77° 25.873′ W. Marker is in Richmond, Virginia. Marker is at the intersection of South 15th Street and East Cary Street, on the right when traveling north on South 15th
S 15th St & E Cary St image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, March 5, 2011
3. S 15th St & E Cary St
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 location. Auction Houses (here, next to this marker); Slave Auction Site (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Shockoe Slip (about 400 feet away); Triple Crossing (about 400 feet away); Burnt District (about 500 feet away); Bell Tavern (about 500 feet away); Reconciliation Statue (about 500 feet away); Kanawha Canal (about 500 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Richmond.
More about this marker. On the right are illustrations of a bill of sale and a slave auction. Illustrations from Library of Virginia
Regarding Davenport Trading Company. This marker was replaced by a new one named Auction Houses (see nearby markers).
Categories. African AmericansIndustry & Commerce
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on March 5, 2011, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 652 times since then and 19 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on March 5, 2011, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.
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