In his two-year budget proposal, outgoing Va. Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) has included $11 million for the planning, design and construction of a proposed slavery museum, pavilion and enhanced slave trail in Richmond’s Shockoe Bottom neighborhood. The area was once the second largest slave market in the country, after New Orleans, and home to the notorious slave jail and auction house owned by Robert Lumpkin.
Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe (D), who takes office on Jan.11, has told reporters he supports the proposed funding for the slavery heritage project. The General Assembly, which would have to approve that appropriation, will vote on McDonnell’s proposed two-year budget during its 60-day term that begins on Jan. 8.
McDonnell has said the appropriation is “seed capital” to get the project started. The deal calls for the city to contribute at least $5 million in local matching funds as well as to obtain the real estate needed for the project. The estimated cost for just the museum is $30 million.
Little remains of the sprawling slave market — the Lumpkin compound was torn down in the 1880s — but archaeologists who explored the area in 2009 were able to identify the site of Lumpkin’s jail as well as the location of his house where he lived with a freed woman and their five children.