Ivy Cliff Slave Dwelling

Ivy Cliff Slave Dwelling

The slave dwelling at Ivy Cliff, also known as Otter Mills Plantation, was built by enslaved people for Captain Henry Brown circa 1772. The one standing slave dwelling at Ivy Cliff is a dogtrot or saddlebag-type log dwelling, with two sides or “pens” connected by an open breezeway. While not much is known of the enslaved people at Ivy Cliff, some of the Brown family letters and financial records reveal the names of a few individuals including Sarah, Mimy, Martha Ann, Judy and Joshua. When Brown died in 1841, he mentioned several slaves in his will: Dick, Bill, John, George, Charles, Christian, Harry, Wilson, Eliza, Nancy, Mary Ann, Anna, Martha, and Manda.


Extant dwellings of enslaved people are rare and often overlooked. Time, weather, and deferred maintenance makes these structures especially vulnerable. Many buildings are in the hands of private property owners with limited access to resources and expertise to preserve these important structures. The owners of many of these buildings, such as at Ivy Cliff, are keenly aware of the rarity and importance of the structure and its needs for preservation, but more resources and support are needed to preserve these important structures, as well as outreach to the descendant communities.


While experts and organizations including Jobi Hill and the Saving Slave Houses Project, Joseph McGill and the Slave Dwelling Project, and the Virginia Slave Housing Project, work tirelessly to record and preserve slave houses, more educational and financial resources are needed to help private individuals and nonprofits preserve these important buildings. Funding can be a huge obstacle for individuals and small local organizations seeking to preserve slave dwellings and other historic sites of historically marginalized and underrepresented communities.

For more information contact: Sophie Taylor, (407) 701-5984; Email: ivycliffpreservation@gmail.com