About 25 descendants of Peyton Skipwith attend an April 13 naming ceremony on the University of Virginia campus. (Courtesy of U.Va.)
About 25 descendants of Peyton Skipwith attend an April 13 naming ceremony on the University of Virginia campus. (Courtesy of U.Va.)

Officials at the University of Virginia held a ceremony this month naming one of its campus buildings in honor of Peyton Skipwith, a former slave who quarried stone for some of the early structures at the Charlottesville school.

Skipwith was owned by John Hartwell Cooke, one of the first members of the university’s board of visitors. The new building, named the April 13 ceremony, houses administrative offices and is thought to sit on the site of the original quarry.

In 1833, Cooke freed Skipwith, his wife, and their six children under the condition that they move to Liberia in Africa.

The special-collections library at the University of Virginia contains more than 50 letters the Skipwith family wrote to Cooke after they settled in Liberia.

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This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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