Davenport and Allen Auction Co. 

15th and Cary streets in Shockoe Bottom

click to enlarge SCOTT ELMQUIST

This blocky former warehouse, located not far from the flood wall amid Shockoe Bottom watering holes, is one of Richmond's few remaining buildings where slave auctions were held. Davenport and Allen was a dry goods concern but also had a large sales floor where larger products such as farm animals and heavy equipment were sold. It was also the scene of periodic slave auctions. By the 1850s Richmond was among nation’s largest slave markets, along with New Orleans, which locally accounted for more revenue than tobacco, flour and iron combined. In 1852 there were some 28 slave traders and auction houses operating in a stretch of Shockoe Bottom from the canal to north of Broad Street. In addition to warehouses, they operated out of hotels and meeting houses.

Long abandoned, the Davenport and Allen building is being converted to apartments. And after much controversy, excavation work is now underway on the reclamation of a 3.4 acre Negro Burial Ground in upper Shockoe Bottom near Broad Street and Interstate 95, which until recently was a surface parking lot.


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