The George L. Seaton House is located in Alexandria, Virginia, and resides in the second oldest African American neighborhood in this area, Hayti. This two-story brick building was built around 1861-1866. The property is named after prominent African-American community leader George Lewis Seaton, who purchased the house on April 14, 1866. Historical artifacts representing the community of Hayti have been discovered by archaeologists. The property, along with its artifacts, resemble the life of free blacks in Alexandria in the mid-19th century. In 2004, this property was recognized by the National Register of Historic Places.
The location of
this property eludes to its significance in African American history. In the
mid 1800s, the free black community of Alexandria was rapidly increasing. Within
the city of Alexandria, the neighborhood of Hayti was founded in the 1800s on
the 400th block of South Royal Street. Its name was derived from the only country with a successful slave revolt in the western hemisphere up to this point, Haiti. The
property in this neighborhood was sold to free African American families by the
Quakers; George Seaton was to become the owner of this specific Alexandrian
property in 1866.
In 1822, George
Lewis Seaton was born a free black man in Alexandria. He was well-known in the
community as an architect and master carpenter, responsible for the
construction of several buildings throughout the town around 1850s into the
1860s. Seaton grew to become an important leader within Alexandria, respected
by both whites and blacks in the area. In 1869, George L. Seaton became the
first African American on the Virginia General Assembly and devoted his
position to advancing life for the black community and breaking racial
barriers. He would go on to build two schools for the African American children
in Alexandria and served as a founding member of the Colored YMCA, the Colored
Building Association, and the Old Fellows Society. These were among the major
accomplishments Seaton would accomplish for the community.
From 1866 until
his death in 1881, the property on 404 South Royal Street served as the home of George Lewis Seaton. He dedicated his life laboring to improve the lives of
African American within Alexandria, leaving his mark on the city. George L.
Seaton’s family continued to live in the house long after he passed, and the
property has undergone many alterations since. Today, the house is a Virginia Historic
Landmark that stands in memory of a man devoted to his city and a better life
for African Americans.