Jul 26, 2022 - News

Richmond's historic Winfree Cottage finds a home

An old, boarded up white building on a trailer.

The Winfree Cottage at its current home in a parking lot alongside I-95. Photo: Ned Oliver/Axios

A little clapboard cottage with big historical significance is heading to a permanent home after two decades in a Shockoe Bottom parking lot.

Why it matters: The structure was once part of a thriving community of formerly enslaved African Americans in Manchester.

  • It was home to Emily Winfree, who lived in it with her children until her death in 1919, and represents "an intricate narrative of hardship, resilience and triumph," according to the city's Slave Trail Commission.

Catch up fast: The building was saved from demolition in 2002, when historic preservationists had it loaded onto a trailer and moved to Shockoe Bottom next to the site of Lumpkin's Slave Jail.

  • It's sat there ever since, boarded up and paint chipping away.

What's happening: City officials say they are pursuing a plan to move the structure to a park in Manchester close to where the building originally stood, pending neighborhood feedback.

  • The park is at the intersection of 15th and Maury streets across the street from Blackwell Elementary School.

What they're saying: "We see it as an amazing opportunity to engage community children and Richmond Public Schools children in the story that this little house can tell," Kimberly Chen, a city project manager, tells Axios.

What's next: The city has budgeted $500,000 for the move, which is tentatively planned for spring of next year.


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