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In a far from literate nineteenth-century America, armories were one type of buildings that signaled its purpose at a glance. The castle-like appearance of armories deliberately projected a sense of strength, civic order, security, and pride. In addition, this building must have been of special significance for the former slaves and children of ex-slaves in Richmond. Here, in the heart of Jackson Ward, stood a promise written in brick and granite—the same promise that had been written in an ocean of blood by civil war only a generation before.