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JXN Project awarded grant to re-erect historic home in Richmond

Image Courtesy of the JXN Project (left photo from Valentine Museum/right from Richmond Times Dispatch)

A historical preservation effort in Richmond got a major boost this week: a $1.5 million dollar grant from the Mellon Foundation. The grant is part of the Monuments Project, a $250 million national effort to re-imagine America’s commemorative landscape.

The JXN Projectis a preservation nonprofit working to tell the stories of Richmond’s Jackson Ward neighborhood. The group will use the money to support a massive construction project, re-erecting a home.

In the 1790’s this particular home belonged to Jackson Ward’s first-known Black homeowner, Abraham Skipwith. In the 1950’s it was dislocated, moved to a former plantation in Goochland

“When we look at the full arc of the Ward and we look at the full arc of Skipwith’s life this is very much so part of a national narrative, even down to how his home became dislocated due to infrastructure projects like Interstate 95,” says Doctor Sesha Joi Moon, Executive Director of the JXN Project.

Skipwith was both a homeowner and able to pass down his wealth by legally signing a will, another first for a Black man in the area at the time – a time when most Black people in the South were enslaved, their wealth and work not their own.

“This is a Black man who lived an entire life, very intentional, about securing his own autonomy for not only himself but also his heirs,” says Moon. “And so it means a lot to also receive this grant as a fully autonomous Black organization led by two sisters within the heart of Richmond.”

Enjoli Moon is Sesha Joi Moon’s sister and Assistant Director of the JXN Project. She says their effort to restore the story of Skipwith, and his home, back to Jackson Ward fits into the current broader movement of historical re-examination.

“To be able to reconstruct his cottage and have a tangible asset to be able to celebrate him, I think that means a whole lot in Richmond, in America, in this moment,” Enjoli Moon says.

Thanks to another local nonprofit the JXN Project already has the land the house will sit on.

They do still have about $3 million to fundraise in order to meet their goal. They hope to open the site to visitors in 2026.

Mallory Noe-Payne is a Radio IQ reporter based in Richmond.