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Slavery Museum moves forward
U.S. National Slavery Museum gives account of progress.

Date published: 4/23/2005


Site cleared, officials confident of February 2007 opening

The U.S. National Slavery Museum has cleared its site, completed erosion-control measures, finalized architectural plans and laid out a master plan for exhibits.

The museum, being built on 38 acres in the Celebrate Virginia South tourism complex in Fredericksburg, also is making headway in finishing a road serving the entire development and in installing water and sewer lines, according to information provided by Assistant to the Director James Damron and an annual report sent to the city manager March 28.

Then-Gov. L. Douglas Wilder got the inspiration to build a slavery museum in 1992 during a trip to West Africa. A decade later, Wilder, the grandson of slaves and now mayor of Richmond, entered into an agreement with Fredericksburg officials in which the city would provide $1 million in exchange for development on the 411-acre Celebrate Virginia site.

The city funds are being recouped through a special tax district set up within the development. As of March 31, the city had recovered $214,651.59.

Another $77,334.25 is due by May 15, according to Clarence A. Robinson, the city's director of fiscal affairs. He anticipated it would take another three to four years to recover the full $1 million.

The faster development takes place, the faster the money will be recovered and the sooner the city reaps economic benefits from Celebrate Virginia, City Manager Phillip Rodenberg said.

Within the tourism complex, Rodenberg said he understands the Hilton Garden Inn will open in late summer and that an expo and conference center will follow by November. Celebrate Virginia South, being developed by The Silver Cos. along the Rappahannock River, is to include additional hotels, retail shops and restaurants and may have a hotel with an indoor water park.

Museum officials say their three-story, 250,000-square-foot facility will open in February 2007.

According to the March 2002 agreement, the museum is to complete $1 million worth of "governmental services" within three years of receiving the funds. Damron indicated this week that he anticipates no problems meeting the end of September deadline for that.

As in the past, Damron requested questions from The Free Lance-Star be submitted in writing and responded likewise.

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