Ben Venue is where my father's (dad 1) family started. My g grandmother was born in one of these cabins as well as her sister. Her mother, I believe was a slave named Alcinda who one of the owners of Ben Venue acquired from an estate on another farm. I took these photos of the cabins and the main house in 1996. The air was very still and you could literally feel and "see" the souls of the people walking down this road.
Ben Venue was designed by James Leake Powers who worked with Thomas Jefferson designing the Rotunda. The main house, service outbuildings and slave quarters were visually unified. The three slave quarters lined a ridged field in front of the main house. The slave quarters at Ben Venue are the most sophisticated grouping of surviving slave quarters in Virginia.
The slave quarters at Ben Venue show a change in attitude toward slave housing which occurred in the 19th century. In the previous century slaves lived in shacks with wooden chimneys, without windows and doors. By the second decade of the 19th century, more prosperous plantations reflected a pride of ownership. The many buildings of a plantation were designed with the concept of a unified complex.
Because slaves were considered a valuable commodity, owners took more interest realizing that crude utilitarian shacks would not enhance the health or productivity of the slaves.
Today Ben Venue is listed in the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Landmarks Register. It had been in the same family for over six generations.