The Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery (site 44AX0179), the oldest documented African American burial ground in the City of Alexandria, Virginia, became the final resting place for 1,711 African Americans who died between 1864 and 1869. By the mid-20th century the cemetery had disappeared from the historical record and an automobile service station and office building were built on the site. In 2002, the Alexandria City Council adopted a plan to establish the Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial Park at the site.

The Challenge

Archival research and archeological work at the cemetery began in 1990 during the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project and was completed in 2007 by Alexandria Archeology. The City of Alexandria now needed to ensure that the construction of the memorial would not impact any interments or other cemetery features that had been documented.

Our Solution

Because of WSSI’s familiarity and involvement with this project, our archeologists coordinated with Alexandria Archaeology and other City staff, project management, and various construction contractors to ensure that the Memorial construction project was conducted in full compliance with the MOA for the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project, which specified that no grave or historic cemetery feature would be impacted. WSSI was also hired by the city to complete the Archeological Data Recovery report documenting the 2007 Alexandria Archaeology excavations at the site.


Ben Brenman Award for Outstanding Archaeologist, 2013, Boyd Sipe (WSSI)

Project Facts
  • Owner
    City of Alexandria, Virginia
  • Location
    Alexandria, VA
  • Boyd Sipe

    Gainesville, VA

  • John Mullen

    Gainesville, VA