Bruin’s Slave Jail

Alexandria (Ind. City)

VLR Listing Date


NRHP Listing Date


NHL Listing Date


NRHP Reference Number


Bruin’s Slave Jail is a Federal-style brick dwelling constructed about 1819 for John Longden who sold the property in 1844 to Joseph Bruin, a slave dealer. Bruin used the house as a holding facility or “slave jail” for slaves awaiting sale to individuals and other dealers. Harriet Beecher Stowe, in her book The Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1854), described how she used her knowledge of Bruin’s slave jail as background for part of her explosive 1852 novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. This building in the city of Alexandria also served as the Fairfax County courthouse from 1862 to 1865 under the Restored Government of Virginia. It is a fine example of a locally uncommon five-bay dwelling that retains historical fabric reflecting its use as a slave jail.

Last Updated: June 6, 2023

Many properties listed in the registers are private dwellings and are not open to the public, however many are visible from the public right-of-way. Please be respectful of owner privacy.

VLR: Virginia Landmarks Register
NPS: National Park Service
NRHP: National Register of Historic Places
NHL: National Historic Landmark


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