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Historial Carl Westmoreland "You can't deny it. It's not a pile of logs. It's a story that is forever with us."
Carl Westmoreland, historian and curator of the slave pen in the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.
Slave pen focal point of Freedom Center

From the outside, it looked like just another neglected barn. But inside, the decaying structure on a Mason County, Kentucky farm held a hidden piece of living history. The cramped one-room jail tells the story of a generation of slaves who were kept inside the "slave pen" on Captain John W. Anderson's farm waiting to be taken to the auction block.

As Carl Westmoreland, curator and senior advisor to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, takes us back to the farm and traces the journey of the pen - from its careful disassembly and transport to the Center, where it was rebuilt - Westmoreland tells the story of the pen and its function as the central healing object for the soon-to-open Center.

Reconstructed slave pen Slave pen now holds history
Carefully dismantled in Kentucky over a period of two years, and under reconstruction now on the see-through second floor of the Freedom Center, the pen will be the center's principal artifact.
Photographs of the slave pen

The slave pen's journey
When the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center discovered a slave jail was still standing inside a barn in Mason County, they set about the intricate job of disassembling and transporting the artifact to its new home.

History of slavery in America
The transatlantic slave trade that brought 500,000 Africans to North America. Trace their journey.


Experience the slave pen
Go inside the exhibit through 360-degree immersive photography.

Photo gallery
See a gallery of photos from the slave pen's move and reconstruction.

Freedom Center facts:

Opening: August (10 years in development)

Groundbreaking: June 17, 2002

Founded: Proposed in 1994 and incorporated in 1995

Location: 50 E. Freedom Way, along Ohio River in downtown Cincinnati

Building: 158,000-square-foot learning center designed by Blackburn Architects of Indianapolis in cooperation with BOORA Architects of Portland, Ore.

Features: Family history center, dialogue hall, five exhibition halls, one changing exhibits gallery, theater, gift shop, cafe and eternal flame.

Attendance: 320,000 visitors expected in first year; 260,000 annual average thereafter.

Campaign goal: $110 million

Raised to date: $100 million

Sources: 45 percent from government, 55 percent from private sources

Core visitor experiences: Escape! Freedom Seekers and the Underground Railroad (a children's exhibit); Slave Pen; Brothers of the Borderlands; From Slavery to Freedom; Everyday Freedom Heroes; The Struggle Today; Reflect/Respond/Resolve; Changing Gallery; and Suite for Freedom.

Electronic programs: Freedom Center Productions, Ad Council's "Power of One Voice," Web-isodes, Web-zine and www.freedomcenter.org

Educational programs: Freedom Stations' Program, Theodore M. Berry Lecture Series, diversity training, digital library, family histories, performances, film, FreedomQuests, and international and national conferences

Scholars panel: Ira Berlin, Richard Blackett, David Blight, Eric Foner, James Horton, Lois Horton, Carla Peterson, John Michael Vlach, Deborah Gray Whit