First Freedom Center opening set for Jan. 16 in downtown Richmond
The First Freedom Center at the northwest corner of Cary and 14th streets will open to the public at 3 p.m. on Jan. 16, National Religious Freedom Day, after a dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony.
The center occupies the site where the Virginia General Assembly in 1786 passed the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, whose author was Thomas Jefferson. The Virginia Statute ensured the right to freely choose religion (or none at all) and is considered a precursor to the First Amendment to the Constitution.
The 2,200-square-foot exhibition space will feature installations examining Americans’ experience with religious liberty, from its European roots through today.
The project is connected to two hotels, the Courtyard and Residence Inn by Marriott hotels, which are under construction and expected to open in December. The First Freedom Center and hotels are part of a $30 million project undertaken by Richmond-based Apple Reit Cos. that will add more than 200 new hotel rooms to the Richmond market.
The center’s exhibitions will occupy visible street-level space and will have access to the courtyard and meeting space for forums and conferences. The center will be open daily.
The First Freedom Center, formerly the Council for America’s First Freedom, has been operating since 1984.
“The First Freedom Center will fill a gap in the historic offerings in Richmond and shed a light on this incredibly important moment in history that happened right here,” First Freedom Center Chief Executive Officer Randolph W. Wyckoff said in a statement.