This woodcut, featured in Harper's Weekly in 1864, depicts Freedman's Village. A contraband camp established on the grounds of Arlington House, Robert E. Lee's plantation, Freedman's Village was Arlington's first all black community as well as its first successful pre-planned community. Here formerly enslaved men, women, and children learned trades, attended school, established churches, and create a thriving African American community. When the Village was formally closed by the federal government in 1900 it lead to the establishment of many other black communities in Arlington through the Freedman's Village diaspora.

Collection: Neighborhoods

This plan for the Freedman's Village headquarters was created by the War Department in 1865. The government's continued investment in the Village and its infrastructure shows how even though the Village was created as a war aim, Freedman's Village continued to expand as an African American community in peace. The Four Square architectural style of the house was popular in Arlington and across the county in suburban landscapes of the late nineteenth century. The style is associated with early streetcar suburbs, like the ones which were just beginning to emerge in Arlington at the close of the Civil War.


Freedman's Village was a contraband camp created by the War Department and strengthened by Arlington's African American community. The Village, located on the lands of Robert E. Lee's Arlington plantation, was a black neighborhood in Arlington from 1863 until 1900.

Here 100 white-washed, one-and-a-half story duplexes, like the one pictured, were constructed along a quarter-mile long thoroughfare through the Village. The clapboard houses used a paired-down version of the Classical Revival style. This housing type remained a popular choice for African American communities in Arlington throughout the early twentieth century.

Collection: Neighborhoods