A Future for Shockoe Bottom

Shockoe Bottom in Richmond, Virginia, an epicenter of domestic slave trade, is a site of national importance and tells a uniquely American story of the contradictions between the American ideal of personal freedom and the reality of American slavery and the continuing struggle for economic justice. The National Trust for Historic Preservation designated the site a National Treasure to help elevate awareness of and solicit solutions for its preservation.

The Shockoe Bottom Partners (SBP), Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project, Preservation Virginia, and the Center for Design Engagement, (UMASS Amherst), worked together in combination with leadership from the National Trust for five years. These efforts 1) saved the significant archaeological site from inappropriate development of a baseball stadium, 2) organized local stakeholders to expand the vision beyond the plan for a Lumpkin’s Jail museum and 3) developed a community-generated conceptual plan for a nine-acre memorial park.

Grant funding from the National Trust’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund supported Preservation Virginia’s commissioning of a two-part study to provide a road map for commemorating the history of Shockoe Bottom while planning for responsible development. The Descendant  community, historic preservationists and others leveraged that report to advocate for equitable redevelopment of  Shockoe Bottom.

In March 2024, Mayor Stoney unveiled the Shockoe Project, a master plan to commemorate this International Site of Conscience.  The Shockoe Institute is expected to open in the train shed in 2025.


View the full studies below


Ebony Walden Consulting performed the first study on equitable development and VCU’s Center for Urban and Regional Analysis analyzed the economic impacts of a comprehensive plan for Shockoe Bottom.