Virginia Runaways

Views of the Reconstructed Slave Quarter at Carter's Grove near Williamsburg

(photos ©1999 Tom Costa)

The Great House

According to Rhys Isaac, in The Transfomation of Virginia, the layout of slave quarters was not entirely determined by the masters. African-American bondsmen and women themselves built their living quarters, arranging them in part according to their African experiences in communal living.

There were probably between 30 and 40 slaves who inhabited this quarter. How would you characterize the construction of this building? What are the materials used?

How would you describe the construction style used in this building? Why is the foundation raised above the ground? How do these buildings compare with the view of the great house below?

Here's a view of the interior of one of the buildings. 
Do you agree or disagree that the slaves would try to make things as comfortable as they could within the limitations placed upon them by the masters? Is this a pig sty?

Two Views of the Great House
(expanded and reconstructed in the 1930s)


Robert "King" Carter, one of the wealthiest planters in Virginia, gave the Carter's Grove plantation to his daughter Elizabeth and her husband, Nathaniel Burwell. The estate was inherited by their son, Carter Burwell, who built the big house and employed the slaves there beginning in the late 1730s. The modern house you see here was extensively remodeled in the 1930s and retains much less of the appearance of the 18th-century mansion.



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