8. East Lawn Basement Rooms

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The basement rooms served many different purposes over the decades. Some were living quarters for enslaved African Americans owned by professors. Pavilion occupants occasionally annexed these rooms by breaking through common walls, which allowed a direct passageway from the basement to the inside of the pavilion, allowing them to be used as auxiliary work spaces. Many of these rooms show evidence of improvement to make them more habitable. They were whitewashed and some had plaster ceilings. Despite those improvements, most of the rooms still had dirt floors, no windows and no fireplaces. Some rooms were rented out to businessmen such as Jack Kennedy, a member of the Charlottesville free black community, who applied for one of the cellar rooms to be used as a barber's shop for the accommodation of the students. The faculty approved because they hoped the students would have fewer reasons to go to town. In another room (under Room 24), enslaved laborers constructed a large cistern, which was once a vital part of the University's water supply and fire protection system. The cistern was connected to wooden pipes and trenches, all of which were constructed and maintained by enslaved laborers and, in later years, Thomas Farrow and Robert Battles, free black tradesmen.

Exterior viewing only, building not open to the public