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In February 2008, the City of Alexandria released the Call for Entries for the Contrabands and Freedmen's Cemetery Memorial Design Competition. The City sought design submissions from architects, landscape architects, artists, students, and other interested individuals to memorialize and honor those who are buried at Contrabands and Freedmen's Cemetery in Alexandria, Virginia. The entries were due on April 25, 2008, and the City received a broad range of submissions from individuals and firms from over 20 countries around the world.

Please visit the View Winners page to view the top six entries.

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Freedmen's Cemetery Construction Presentation

Presentation from the Contrabands & Freedmen's Cemetery Memorial - Public Information Meeting held Thursday, March 11.

Freedmen’s Cemetery Design Competition Winners Announced

First Place Winner: C.J. Howard of Alexandria, VA
The City of Alexandria is pleased to announce the winners of the Contrabands and Freedmen’s Cemetery Memorial Design Competition today. Alexandria architect C.J. Howard won first place honors in the Contrabands and Freedmen’s Cemetery Memorial Design Competition. In addition to receiving a $10,000 first place prize, Howard’s winning design will be used as the framework for a detailed site design with a $1.5 to $2 million construction budget for the Cemetery Memorial. C. J. Howard developed the winning design to “venerate those who are buried at the site, as well as to acknowledge the site’s historical background.”

"The City of Alexandria is proud to name C.J. Howard of Alexandria as the winner of the Freedmen's Cemetery Design Competition,” said Alexandria William D. Euille. “Mr. Howard has developed a winning design will be a fitting tribute to those who escaped slavery, and will be a lasting memorial for generations to come.”

Over two hundred design submissions were collected from architects, landscape architects, artists, students, and the general public. The memorial will honor the 1,800 individuals—who escaped slavery by fleeing to Alexandria during the Civil War—and who are buried in Contrabands and Freedmen’s Cemetery. The three-acre site is located at the southwest corner of Church and South Washington Streets.

Design competition entries were collected from February until April this year, and proposals were received from entrants in all 50 states and 20 countries internationally. Design requirements included interpreting the cemetery site with respect to those who are buried there and providing a focal point consisting of an artistic or interpretive element that respects the integrity of the graves, historic design of the site, and the scale of the adjacent neighborhood.

Design finalists were displayed for public comment in June. A final decision was made by the Freedmen’s Design Steering Committee, which included members from the Friends of Freedmen’s Cemetery, Historical Alexandria Resources Commission, Alexandria Archaeological Commission, Planning Commission, Parks and Recreation Commission, Alexandria Historical Society, Arts Commission, Society for the Preservation of Black Heritage, Old Town Hunting Creek Civic Association, Old Town Civic Association, the VDOT/FHWA project team, and the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Neighborhood Task Force.

The second place winners are Santosh Dhamat, Elizabeth Eubank, Solvita Marriott, Tracy Revis of Howard & Revis Design Services located in Washington, D.C. The third place winners are Paul Simon & Regan Harrold of Beals and Thomas, Inc. located in Southborough, MA. All design winners will receive a cash award and be recognized at the Alexandria City Council’s regular legislative meeting on Tuesday, September 23.

Competition Mission Statement

The Contrabands and Freedmen's Cemetery Memorial in Alexandria, Virginia will be a sacred site dedicated to honoring the more than 1,800 people of African descent who were buried in the cemetery during and immediately following the Civil War.

The dignity, perseverance, and courage of Alexandria's freed men, women, and children will be memorialized through reclamation of the forgotten site, thereby protecting hundreds of graves which have survived. The Contrabands and Freedmen's Cemetery Memorial will be a solemn and reverent place, offering opportunities for reflection, commemoration, education, and the search for cultural identity.

The Memorial will educate visitors about the courageous struggles of the thousands of contrabands and freedmen who sought refuge in Alexandria, as well as the heroic role that the United States Colored Troops played in America's Civil War. Visitors will be able to trace the site's history from Native American settlement, to African American burial ground and beyond.

The Memorial will protect the cemetery and stand as a reminder to generations that the struggle for freedom and the people who fought for it cannot, and will not, be forgotten again.