East Marshall Street Well Project East Marshall Street Well Project

Sad news

We are so saddened by the passing of Lillie Estes. Lillie contributed in so many ways to Richmond and to VCU. She was generous in engaging with Virginia Commonwealth University and served on the Family Representative Council for the East Marshall Street Well Project and also worked with our students and faculty at the MoB.

She engaged authentically and with such deep integrity and passion on behalf of the community. She was a person who cared deeply about Richmond and gave of herself and her talents to make Richmond a better place for all of us. She was truly an an amazing asset. This is such an incredible loss.

Our deepest condolences go to her family, friends and community.

Project history

In April 1994, human bones and artifacts from the 19th century were discovered in an abandoned well uncovered during construction on Virginia Commonwealth University’s MCV Campus. The well’s contents are believed to have been discarded in the 1800s by medical staff.

These humans, mainly of African descent, were not shown the respect they were due, neither in life nor in death. The university is committed to moving forward in a manner reflecting the dignity that should be accorded these individuals and has created the East Marshall Street Well Project to facilitate a process with the community that ensures the remains receive appropriate study, memorialization and reburial.

Learn more about the project.

Want to get involved?

Members of the community are invited to submit nominations (self or others) for service on one of the three implementation steering committees for research, memorialization and interment. Nomination forms are available online.


The Family Representative Council presented its final recommendations to the Planning Committee in August 2018 and to the public in December 2018. Three implementation steering committees for research, memorialization and interment are being formed. These committees will work to implement the final recommendations of the Family Representative Council.

The ceremonies were a beautiful tribute and a beautiful beginning to this process. I am hopeful and look forward to the future of this project.