Laurel Ridge students will have opportunity to participate in overnight Slave Dwelling Project

For Immediate Release:
October 5, 2018

Primary Media Contact:
Sally Voth
Public Relations Specialist
[email protected]
Phone: 540-868-7134

slave dwelling

Laurel Ridge students are being offered the opportunity to participate in a unique experience – sleeping on the lower-level floor of Belle Grove Plantation in Middletown as part of the Slave Dwelling Project on Nov. 10.

Founded by Joe McGill, the Slave Dwelling Project’s mission is to identify dwellings once slept in by slaves and to help the buildings’ owners, government agencies or organizations preserve them. The descendant of slaves, McGill has visited 90 sites in 18 states, sleeping at them and sharing his experiences and those of the enslaved.

McGill brought the experience to Belle Grove once before, in October 2016.

The manor’s original owners, the Hite family, owned more than 275 slaves over the years. Some of the enslaved individuals certainly were forced to work in the lower level of the manor, and possibly slept there. Being there, and sleeping on the floor, are ways to connect with and honor the lives of the plantation’s slaves.

In addition to the overnight experience for students from Laurel Ridge and Shenandoah University, there will be a variety of African-American living history activities from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Nov. 10. These include a talk by McGill, hearth cooking and blacksmithing demonstrations; presentations by a Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park ranger on the lives of Judah, an enslaved cook at the manor, and Emannual Jackson Jr., whose freedom was bought; and information on exploring family history with the Shenandoah Valley Black Heritage Project.

As a member of Laurel Ridge’s Diversity and Inclusion Council, Kristin Iden, who works in the college’s Office of Human Resource Management, has been instrumental in bringing this opportunity to students.

“We thought it would be an opportunity for our students to gain better insight into the history of slavery in our own region, and the legacy it created,” she says.

National Park Service Funding has made the cost of the overnight just $25, and Laurel Ridge students’ spots will be covered by a grant. Any leftover spaces will be made available to Laurel Ridge faculty and staff.

Laurel Ridge is also offering a couple more related events.

In the Corron Community Development Center on the Middletown Campus, historical archeologist Matthew Greer will be presenting “Slavery and Ceramics at Belle Grove Plantation,” his archeological research on the enslaved at the manor, at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 8. His presentation is sponsored by Laurel Ridge’s Human Services Student Organization and the Diversity and Inclusion Council.

Additionally, representatives from the council and Belle Grove will discuss the upcoming Belle Grove visit prior to the Oct. 10 screening of “Skin Deep.” The film, sponsored by the Laurel Ridge Library Film Series, will be shown at 12:15 p.m. in Cornerstone Hall Room 300.

Those interested in participating in the Slave Dwelling Project, or finding out more, can visit, or contact Kristin Iden at [email protected].


Founded in 1970, Laurel Ridge Community College is a multi-campus public institution of higher education. With three locations — Middletown, Warrenton, and Luray-Page County — the College serves eight localities in the Shenandoah Valley and northern Piedmont regions. The localities are the counties of Clarke, Fauquier, Frederick, Page, Rappahannock, Shenandoah and Warren and the city of Winchester. Laurel Ridge offers more than 75 associate degree and certificate programs in a wide variety of disciplines, in addition to providing access to bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs offered on site by a four-year institution. Laurel Ridge also serves the business community by offering workforce preparation programs for employees and employers. Laurel Ridge serves more than 9,000 unduplicated credit students and more than 11,000 individuals in professional development and business and industry courses annually.

Laurel Ridge Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award associate degrees. Laurel Ridge Community College also may offer credentials such as certificates and diplomas at approved degree levels. Questions about the accreditation of Laurel Ridge Community College may be directed in writing to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, GA 30033-4097, by calling (404) 679-4500, or by using information available on SACSCOC’s website (

Laurel Ridge Community College is an equal opportunity institution providing educational and employment opportunities, programs, services, and activities. Laurel Ridge shall promote and maintain equal employment and educational opportunities without regard to race, color, religion, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, marital status, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions including lactation, age (except when age is a bona fide occupational qualification), status as a veteran, national origin, or other non-merit factors. Laurel Ridge also prohibits sexual misconduct including sexual violence or harassment. Inquiries may be directed to the Associate Vice President, Human Resources, [email protected]173 Skirmisher Lane, Middletown, VA 22645, 540-868-7226.

Laurel Ridge Community College was known as Lord Fairfax Community College until June 2022. For consistency purposes, the college will be referenced as Laurel Ridge going forward.