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Slavery museum eyed in capital?
Richmond delegate says that city should be considered.

Date published: 2/27/2009



With the slavery museum's future in Fredericksburg in doubt, Richmond Del. Delores McQuinn says she's willing to do whatever it takes to move the potential museum to Richmond.

"I would do whatever I can to secure the funds to have it here," McQuinn said.

McQuinn was chosen in a special election earlier this year to replace Dwight Jones, who became Richmond's mayor. She said she is due to meet with Jones next week and plans to talk to him about her idea.

"I've talked to so many people about it," she said. "People would love to have it here."

McQuinn thinks Richmond is a better location, given the city's history and historical sites. Those sites include Lumpkin's Jail, once a well-known slave jail, and later a school for newly freed slaves.

"It's the right place for the slavery museum, just because of the history of Richmond," McQuinn said. "What was authentic here I think it's the right place."

A former Richmond councilwoman, McQuinn said she pushed the then-Mayor Doug Wilder to locate the slavery museum in Richmond from the beginning.

But Wilder chose Fredericksburg.

However, no one in Fredericksburg seems to have heard from Wilder, nor his staff, in several months. Taxes on the land slated for the museum have gone unpaid since November, construction hasn't begun, and building permits have never been sought for the museum's 38-acre property in Celebrate Virginia.

And every indication suggests that the museum's small staff--including Executive Director Vonita Foster--is gone.

People who work near the museum's leased space in Central Park say they've seen no one in months.

Calls to museum offices were met by a recording that said: "The number you have reached is arranged for outgoing calls only."

Museum officials failed to make a tax payment due Nov. 15, and its next bill of $21,372.40 comes due May 15.

Chelyen Davis: 804/782-9362
Email: cdavis@freelancestar.com