Virginia State Seal Virginia Department of Historic Resources

100-0047 Bruin's Slave Jail

Bruin's Slave Jail
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For additional information, read the Nomination Form PDF

VLR Listing Date 12/01/1999

NRHP Listing Date 08/14/2000

NRHP Reference Number 00000890

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.

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

Updated: February 17, 2021