A journal following the history, design, construction and operation of Bernard Kempinski's O Scale model railroad depicting the U. S. Military Railroad (USMRR) Aquia-Falmouth line in 1863, and other model railroad projects.
©Bernard Kempinski All text and images, except as noted, on this blog are copyrighted by the author and may not be used without permission.

July 7, 2022

Visit to Freedom House Museum

The model I built is displayed with a key to the structures 

Alicia examining the model

 Alicia and I stopped by the Freedom House Museum in Alexandria today. It opened a few months ago, but  this was our first chance to visit. 

The museum has 3 floors open for exhibit. The exhibits are quite interesting as they tell the history of black Americans in Alexandria from the slave era to today.

The museum exhibits and the interior of the building are nicely done. However, Andrew, one of the docents, told me that the building will need major structural renovation. So they are not at the final configuration. Thus, the basement that was once a graphic depiction of the slave jail is not open. But the rest of the museum is worth a visit now.

There were several exhibits that caught my eye. First, the large picture behind the model I built is a photo of USCT soldiers that were wounded, some at the Battle of the Crater. They were at the L’Ouverture Hospital and Barracks, a Union military hospital for African American soldiers as well as escaped slaves  and freed slaves during the Civil War.  That hospital was adjacent to the house that houses the museum. They have identified each person in the picture and provided a short biography of them in the little booklet you see by the window. 

One of the side projects I have for the Aquia Line is to get a list of some the people that the USMRR Construction Corps hired. Many of the were former slaves.  

One of several galleries
In one of the upstairs gallery they have an exhibit of paintings of various free African Americans in Alexandria. One depicted a man who owned a grocery, the first free black to have a business in Alexandria. Alas, I did not write down his name, but I will next time I visit. 

They had an interesting graphic that traced the number of freed black people that lived in Alexandria. There were up to 30 percent in 1810 if I read the chart correctly.  That was more than I would have guessed

I also saw a photograph of a sugar mill that was once in Alexandria on N Washington Street. The mill had several slaves working there, including some young boys. I don't think I ever saw that photo before.


  1. AnonymousJuly 07, 2022

    Great post, my friend.. Alton Wallace

  2. AnonymousJuly 08, 2022

    I toured the Freedom House in a pre opening with Alex History expert, Bill Dickinson.
    I was very impressed by the displays. Each of three floors has a distinct theme. Was blown away by the art work on the third floor - touching and vivid works on enslaved peoples’ lodging across the U.S. Gives one the environment that they lived, survived and advanced to Freedom in. A must see!
    Bravo! Dr. R. M. Bedard, Alexandria.