Roots | Restoration | Remembrances

The Sweet Briar Cabin

SBC History

This cabin is the last of over two dozen cabins which were located on the Sweet Briar Plantation. It has been in continuous use since it was constructed around 1840. Why is this important? It is rare to have a cabin built for enslaved people that has withstood the ravages of time. Its substantial construction and current condition offer an opportunity to examine the past and the adaptive and creative re-use of a structure. Moreover, the cabin’s historical value rests in the special place it holds within and beyond the Sweet Briar community.

Originally painted blue, this 18 x 15 foot slave cabin is a one story, one room, loft frame structure with clapboard siding and an open hearth. The foundation is constructed of stacked, irregular fieldstone and mortar. Most slave owners, however, resorted to cheaply constructed dwellings. Slaveholders who wanted to provide fairly decent slave quarters rather than the standard issue preferred plankcovered frame houses with lath and plastered interiors.


Crystal Rosson, Sterling Jones' great-granddaughter, stands in front of his portrait, 2012.


Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and Public Policy, National Trust for Historic Preservation,
Deupree Family Foundation, The President’s Office of Sweet Briar College, and Tusculum Institute

Dr. Lauranett L. Lee | Dr. Lynn Rainville


Joseph McGill slept here as part of his Slave Dwelling.

Artifacts found in the cabin during recent renovations,