The Arc

One of our most exciting new projects is the “Arc of Enslaved Communities.” Our goal is to create an interpretive National Trail through an area that extends from the historic port of Fredericksburg to the North, the Blue Ridge Mountains to the West, and the port of Richmond to the South. 

The core of the Arc lies near the Southwest Mountains, in an historic region dense with communities responsible for pivotal events in American history. This 850-square mile area encompassed one of the highest concentrations of enslaved Americans during the formative years of the United States. These communities formed the socioeconomic, cultural, and intellectual backbone of a vital early American ecosystem conventionally known as the region of James Madison’s Montpelier and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. The centrality of slavery to this ecosystem, the histories of the enslaved, and their contributions to the founding era have been largely marginalized in historical interpretations.

Community Activities & Organizations

Orange County African American Historical Society

The Orange County African-American Historical Society (OCAAHS), located in the town of Orange, Virginia, focuses on exploring and celebrating African-American contributions to the cultural and historical heritage of Orange County, Virginia. 
 

Little Petersburg

One of the many freemen’s villages established post Civil War was located in the Rapidan region of Orange County, Virginia. Watch, as descendants of this community search it’s past, and find its rich history in the documentary Rediscovering Little Petersburg.
 

Restoration & Repurposing of a Rosenwald School

The Rosenwald School project built schools in African-American rural communities throughout the South during the early 20th century. One such school was in the Gordonsville, Virginia area of Orange County. The building is being given a new life for the community while, at the same time, honoring its historical significance. Learn how this is being done.
 

Explore the Arc GIS Map

Sites of Labor at James Madison’s Montpelier