Pavilion V on the UVA Lawn

Memorial To Enslaved Laborers: Recognizing UVA’s History

Date & Time

July 16, 2019 @ 9:00 am - 11:30 am


Rotunda, Multipurpose Room
1826 University Avenue
Charlottesville, VA


Lecture and Memorial Construction Site Tour

Over the past decade, U.S. colleges and universities have begun paying greater attention to the historical role of slavery at their institutions. In 2013, the University of Virginia began a deeper dive into its historical relationship with slavery, exploring opportunities for recognition and commemoration. In 2016, after having spent substantial time investigating and interpreting significant buildings and sites related to slavery, UVA hired a design consultant to gather community feedback about a possible memorial. Today, the creation of the memorial is underway.

During this morning you will be led in discussion by Louis Nelson, Department of Architectural History, School of Architecture and Vice Provost for Academic Outreach, and the behind-the-construction-scene tour led by Sarita Herman, Historic Preservation Project Manager, UVA Facilities Planning & Construction. You will learn about the history of enslaved laborers at UVA and the site significance of this memorial that honors the lives, labor, and resistance of the estimated 5,000 individuals who built and maintained the University. Join us for this rare opportunity to witness firsthand the progress on the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers.

Space is limited, register early! We suggest wearing sunscreen.

Required Attire

Please be aware that the tour will take place in an active construction site with rough and uneven terrain, large equipment, and deep excavations. The construction site is not ADA accessible. Long pants and sturdy close-toed shoes will be required to attend the construction tour. Hardhats will be provided. Please inform any guests that you registered.


Louis Nelson

Vice Provost for Outreach; Professor, School of Architecture

Louis Nelson is Professor of Architectural History and the Vice Provost for Academic Outreach in the Office of the Provost. He is a specialist in the built environments of the early modern Atlantic world, with published work on the American South, the Caribbean, and West Africa. His current research engages the spaces of enslavement in West Africa and in the Americas, working to document and interpret the buildings and landscapes that shaped the trans-Atlantic slave trade. He has a second collaborative project working to understand the University of Virginia as a landscape of slavery. Nelson is an accomplished scholar, with two book-length monographs published by UNC and Yale University Presses, three edited collections of essays, two terms as senior co-editor of Buildings and Landscapes–the leading English language venue for scholarship on vernacular architecture–and numerous articles. He is also a celebrated teacher, having won a university-wide teaching award in 2007 and serving as the 2008 UVA nominee for a state-wide Outstanding Faculty Award. Nelson’s teaching and research focuses on the close examination of evidence–both material and textual–as a means of interrogating the ways architecture shapes the human experience. The majority of his work focuses on the early American South, the Greater Caribbean, and the Atlantic rim.

Sarita Herman

Historic Preservation Project Manager, Facilities Planning & Construction, Facilities Management Department

Sarita M. Herman is a Historic Preservation Project Manager in Facilities Planning & Construction at the University of Virginia. Sarita manages projects of a historic nature on behalf of the University, from initiation through design and construction. Her work includes hiring and overseeing specialty historic preservation architects, engineers, contractors, and archaeologists who perform work on the multitude of historic buildings and landscapes at the University. She also works on a day-to-day basis with a team of preservation professionals, overseeing the ongoing maintenance of historic buildings and grounds by UVA’s own preservation tradespeople. She has participated in numerous projects within the University’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, including the recent renovation of the Rotunda, which received a 2019 AIA Award in Architecture. Sarita is currently acting as the University’s Project Manager for the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers, the East Range Stormwater project, and a renovation of Pavilion VIII.

9:00 AM Check-In—Rotunda Multipurpose Room
9:15 AM Introductions
History of Enslaved Laborers at UVA, the Memorial, and Video –Louis Nelson
1st group tour—Sarita Herman
(2nd group spend time in the Rotunda Museum—Louis Nelson available to answer questions)
2nd group tour—Sarita Herman
(1st group spend time in the Rotunda Museum—Louis Nelson available to answer questions)
11:30 AM Program Ends