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Toll Brothers to transfer Belmont Slave Cemetery property to Loudoun Freedom Center

Pastor Michelle Thomas at the site of the cemetery. Times-Mirror File Photo
After nearly three years of working to acquire the Belmont Slave Cemetery property owned by Toll Brothers, the Loudoun Freedom Center is expected to have the deed to the property by the end of the month.

Loudoun Freedom Center founder Pastor Michelle Thomas told the Times-Mirror Toll Brothers has agreed to transfer the plot of land to the center. The county is in the process of drafting the deed after the Freedom Center, county and Toll Brothers re-entered negotiations last month, which led to the agreement, she said. The announcement comes just ahead of the annual Belmont Slave Cemetery Wreath Laying Ceremony and walking tour Oct. 8.

“This time will be the first time our ancestors are free and not owned by a corporation or their captors,” Thomas said. “They are completely and lovingly in the hands of their descendants.”

The Loudoun Freedom Center, a nonprofit that aims to eliminate injustice and promote understanding and reconciliation through research and historical preservation, had been involved in litigation with Toll Brothers and the county over the selection of a board of trustees to look over the property.

The center had recommended trustees to the county to then recommend to the a Loudoun Circuit Court judge, but instead the Loudoun County Commonwealth's Attorney Jim Plowman (R) reopened the application process, which he said was to make sure everyone in the county had the opportunity to apply if interested. The court was set to review those applications in an Oct. 4 hearing, which was canceled after Toll Brothers and the Freedom Center reached an agreement.

Thomas said she was overwhelmed by the support the Freedom Center received at the last court hearing, which included a mix of people of all political affiliations, races and religions.

“This project captured the best of Loudoun. It's great to be able to come and celebrate the preservation of something. We may never agree on the [Confederate] statue, but we can agree on this,” Thomas said. “This injustice is a burden we all share and a promise we all make to do better.”

Contact the writer at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or on Twitter at @VeronikeCollazo.


Has LFC announced what they plan to do with the land?

The only time a builder does the right thing is when they stand to loose money or they face bad publicity but they did not do this out of sheer altruism. Best possible outcome though. Let the dead rest in peace.

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