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Community group calls for expansion of Court Square

A community group is calling on the city of Charlottesville to expand the Court Square historic area downtown, a move that would reflect the original area of Court Square.

The Court Square Slave Block Citizen Advocacy Group, a group of community members led by Richard Allan and Rev. Marvin Morgan of Sojourners United Church of Christ, submitted a letter to City Council and the Historic Resources Committee last week, asking them to consider widening a curb and moving two parking spaces to expand the area and allow space for more historic interpretation of the area where people were bought and sold into enslavement.

“We ask City Council to reestablish the original area of Slave Block auction yard space where human beings were sold for over a century, as shown on the Court Square map of 1828,” the letter says. “Today much of those additional nearly 500 [square feet] is given over to two parking spaces. Vehicles will obstruct the public’s visual field, blocking view of any obelisk or other markers/signage [Historic Resources Committee] plans for the space.”

The letter says that the Court Square Slave Block Citizen Advocacy Group worked with city engineer Brennen Duncan, who inspected the area.

“[Duncan] informs us that the two parking spaces can be moved across the street just west of 500 Court Square’s entry door. Once he receives a directive from Council, Mr. Duncan would authorize Public Works to schedule and widen the curbside south of the slave market building by eight to nine feet. We ask that this process begin at once, allowing HRC ample time to plan how to utilize the entire expanded space,” it says.

The future of the Court Square area has been the topic of much discussion and planning by the Historic Resources Committee. The committee is currently working with descendants of people who were enslaved in the greater Charlottesville area to create an appropriate marker for the former slave auction site in Court Square. The expansion proposed by the Court Square Slave Block Citizen Advocacy Group would allow the committee a larger area for historical interpretation and contextualization.


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