Freedom House Museum

Museum in Alexandria

Image by Barbara Noe Kennedy Lonely Planet

This demure Federal-style row house holds a tragic story. At a time when Alexandria was the nation’s second-largest slave center (after New Orleans), a flourishing slave-trading business occupied this building and adjoining space. A well-presented basement museum, developed by the Northern Virginia Urban League, powerfully tells the stories of the thousands of enslaved people who passed through. Personal video narratives and artifacts are on view in a heartbreaking setting.

Up to 150 slaves were kept in the holding pen outside (since torn down). Among those likely held here was Solomon Northup, a free black man who in 1841 was kidnapped from Washington and sold into bondage in the south. His story was portrayed in the film Twelve Years a Slave. There's no admission, but donations are encouraged. The museum isn't signed; look for the Franklin and Armfield Slave Office information panel.