Site of Donovan Light St Slave Jail

Site where the business of slavery once took place.

While nothing remains to indicate what once transpired here, we pinpoint this location to memorialize the victims of enslavement in America.

According to an article titled "Baltimore's Old Slave Markets," in the Baltimore Sun, Sep 13, 1936, Joseph S. Dovovan operated a slave market here around 1840, east side of Light Street, four doors south of Montgomery. However, the earliest record of him shipping people south is in 1843. So, it is unclear if his business at this address was in the slave trade.

In addition to the Inner Harbor, Fells Point saw a lot of trade activity during Baltimore's early years. Packet ships from Maryland's Eastern Shore, for instance, were always arriving laden with goods. The Eastern Shore was formerly a prominent tobacco region, and the transition from tobacco to grains caused a glut of workers. The packet ships would include some of the enslaved people who were no longer needed for the labor-intensive tobacco crops. They were often auctioned off on the docks. The wharves in this vicinity that saw enslaved people shipped South included Water’s, Gibson’s, Price’s, and County Wharves.