This cabin, located directly behind Sweet Briar House and adjacent to the Sweet Briar Museum, is the only extant architectural remnant of the enslaved African-American community — which numbered more than 130 souls in the late 1850s — at the Sweet Briar estate. It is one of only a few such structures still standing in the region.
It has been in continuous use since it was constructed around 1840. Originally painted blue, this 12 X 8-foot slave cabin is a one room cabin with a loft, with clapboard siding and an open hearth. The enslaved families who worked for the Fletcher Family lived here, behind the house on the other side of boxwood hedges. After emancipation, a few dozen African-American families stayed nearby and continued to work at Sweet Briar as paid laborers.
The Cabin After Emancipation
Logan Anderson, the farm overseer for Sweet Briar College founder Indiana Fletcher Williams, probably lived in the cabin during the 1880s. After the College was founded in 1900, it became the residence of Sterling Jones Sr.; his wife, Aurelia Tyler Jones; and their children until the 1920s. Jones worked for the College, making the bricks used to construct the first academic buildings on campus. By 1929, the Joneses had moved to Coolwell and the College converted the space for use as the alumnae office. Over the years, the cabin has been used as а coffee shop, classroom and chapel.
ln the mid-1980s, Sweet Briar Museum curator Ann Marshall Whitley ’47 created an exhibit of antique farm tools and displayed them in the cabin for several decades. ln 2012, the collection was moved to another space on campus for study and storage. Today an exhibition about African Americans at Sweet Briar is located in the space.