In the aftermath of the Civil War, numerous former slaves came to Fredericksburg where there was already an established free black community. Many freedmen took work as laborers and servants. Others brought artisan skills they had practiced in slavery. The area in front of you and to your right became one of several African-American neighborhoods in Fredericksburg.
The local economy, however, had been devastated by the war and did not provide many opportunities for skilled workers. Available jobs were primarily in mills and factories. Educational opportunities were limited to a segregated school. Still, many African-American small businesses flourished.
These blocks were Fredericksburg's black center of commerce until the 1970s. Restaurants and boarding houses initially appeared among the residences, catering to the local community as well as to travelers. There were also professional offices, retail stores, barber and beauty shops, a grocery store, a funeral homes and two hotels.
(Sidebar) Constructed in 1884, the Fredericksburg Colored School was located to your left, where the fire station now stands.