Auction Block Relocation

A proposed plan for a Memorial on the Auction Block Site

Public Input Sought on Proposed Plan

A proposed plan for a Memorial on the Auction Block Site has been developed in collaboration with representatives from the Memorials Advisory Commission, the Architectural Review Board, the Fredericksburg Arts Commission, City officials, and many community members.

Watch a recording of Dr. Sims' presentation here.

 

A Request for Proposals (RFP) on Memorial Designs is being planned for early 2024. Public input and City Council approval on a final design will be followed by installation of the new memorial, likely the following year. Please scroll down this page to read more. 

News Release: August 23, 2023 - Building a Memorial on the Auction Block Site

The Beginning of an Inclusive Reinterpretation of Our History


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“We are not makers of history. We are made by history.” ~ Dr. Martin Luther King

Dr. Martin Luther King’s quote embodies why our community has engaged in important conversations over the past several years to arrive where we are today. Today, we stand together in taking the first step to ensuring our community’s story is told through a more inclusive lens. 

As a community, we understand that history has been told through the view of only a few and we carry the responsibility of sharing the full story, one that is representative of all voices in our history. 

The 1,200-pound Auction Block, which once sat at the corner of Charles Street and William Streets, was removed on June 5, 2020. Its original location was recognized in an October 2020 moment of recognition that set forth the first step in the City’s plan to begin on a purposeful journey to tell more of our story. This is one example of how we are striving to present important parts of our full history in a respectful and complete manner that everyone can understand and learn from. 


Auction Block 9 Removal north exposed - credit Dovetail

Removal of the Auction Block on June 5, 2020. 

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Auction-Block-Wayside-Panel-October-2020

Wayside panel and bronze medallion installed in October 2020. 

A Community Coming Together

This journey that brought the City of Fredericksburg to the united decision to relocate the Auction Block included nearly three years of intense discussions, public forums, and listening to the many views of those in our community.  

Sharing Our Past, Embracing the Future. 

City Council's Vision Statement for Fredericksburg conveys the future that we aspire to and guided us to this decision. The people of Fredericksburg are building a 21st Century urban center on the foundation of this historic City at the fall line of the Rappahannock River. Fredericksburg is the hub of regional economic activity, a city with a multicultural population, and a thriving cultural scene, a place that works for everyone, a community where the people are writing the next chapters of Fredericksburg’s history. 

This, combined with the City’s history of successfully and peacefully working through difficult issues, including those related to race, led us to our commitment to greater equitable change.

Read the full 2017 report that launched our efforts.

Read the plan for relocation and implementation.  

A Process of Change 

The Auction Block has been relocated to the Fredericksburg Area Museum, where a team of expert interpreters led efforts to bring a reinterpretation to life that is reflective of a more diverse agency and voice. The Auction Block is now part of a permanent exhibit, "A Monumental Weight: The 'Auction Block' in Fredericksburg, Virginia." Read more about the exhibit here.

Today, a wayside exhibit marks the site of the original location of the Auction Block to appropriately share the history of the physical site to encourage education, learning and important progress. The wayside exhibit will be replaced by a permanent interpretation of the corner. Request for Proposals (RFP) on Memorial Designs is being planned for early 2024. 

The City of Fredericksburg and the Fredericksburg Area Museum partnered to hire a Curator of African American History and Special Projects as a component of City Council’s effort to tell a more complete Fredericksburg story. In 2022, Dr. Gaila Sims joined the team at FAM. Her work has been instrumental in developing the expanded Auction Block exhibit at FAM. Dr. Sims is now overseeing the final phase of the City’s relocation plan, which is a permanent interpretation of the corner where the Auction Block once stood.

Building a Memorial on the Auction Block Site

The corner where the Block was formerly located is now the focus of this final phase of the City’s Plan for Relocation. 

Dr. Gaila Sims, Curator of African American History and Special Projects at the Fredericksburg Area Museum is presenting a proposed plan that has been developed in collaboration with representatives from the Memorials Advisory Commission, the Architectural Review Board, the Fredericksburg Arts Commission, City officials, and many community members. 

A Request for Proposals (RFP) on Memorial Designs is being planned for early 2024. Public input and City Council approval on a final design will be followed by installation of the new memorial, likely the following year. 

A Grateful City

Our community has led our City to be more purposeful in decisions, to lead future generations to take pride in engaging in important conversations that guide us to a more equitable, inclusive, and diverse place for all. The City of Fredericksburg is grateful to all who have contributed and continue to contribute to this process and the many important steps ahead. 

Read more on the timeline of the relocation process and plan.