Since 1901, Sweet Briar House has been the home of the president of Sweet Briar College, a small women’s college in the foothills of the Blue Ridge, a bucolic place of towering trees and beautiful architecture, but also a place that was once home to nearly one hundred slaves.
Nearly all traces of this history are gone, except for possibly the most telling trace: a small log slave cabin thirty paces from the president’s home.
For years the cabin was hidden in plain sight, because it served more antebellum uses—chapel, bookstore, coffee shop, and, most recently “Farm Tool Museum” labeled on the campus maps and college website when I joined the English faculty five years ago.
Ever since arriving I have wanted to write about it, but my attempts have come off as sentimental and unearned. It has never felt like my story to tell. [Read more…]