In the stunning true story told in the major motion picture 12 Years a Slave, free Black man Solomon Northup is kidnapped and sold into slavery, where he subsequently spends an agonizing twelve years in captivity. James Burch (Birch), the DC-based slave dealer responsible for selling the real Northup into slavery, would go on to become one of the last owners of one of the largest slave trading companies in the country, Franklin and Armfield in Alexandria, from 1859 to 1861. The company exported over 3,750 slaves to the new cotton and sugar plantations of the Deep South.
Today the building, owned by the Northern Virginia Urban League, is home to the Freedom House museum. Here, visitors stand witness to the powerful stories of the enslaved in the same space where they were once held. The original bars, bricked walls and artifacts are tangible reminders of this dark time in our nation’s history. First-person slave narratives told through video and exhibits include the story of Solomon Northup. The Freedom House slave pen is remarkably similar to that which is featured in the movie, giving visitors a palpable sense of what slave pens were like during that era.
Hours: Monday – Friday: 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; other times by appointment