Return to Home PageThe President's House

In the News index

Date: July 31, 2007
Byline: Denise James

Archaelogical Dig Ends on Independence Mall

They poured libations paying homage to the enslaved Africans that once toiled at the site of George Washington's house.

An archeological dig here, a few feet from the Liberty Bell Pavilion at 6th and Market, unearthed evidence surrounding the lives of the 9 enslaved Africans who were owned by and lived with the nation's first president.

"This is an opportunity to stop having one text book about George Washington and another book about George Washington and his slaves," said Dr. Cheryl LaRoche.

Among the finds, archeologists discovered an underground passage between the kitchen and main house, a basement below that where enslaved chef Hercules worked before escaping, and a piece of a bow window thought to be a prototype for the White house oval office. They will eventually be part of an exhibit here. For now, the site will be covered again to prevent wind and water based deterioration.

"So today we gather here as we temporarily put the soil back in place over these priceless treasures," said Roz McPherson [...].

Once this site is covered, a task force will figure out how best to commemorate the artifacts that were uncovered here, and how to present this historic place were symbols of liberty and captivity coexist.

"A mere five feet from the main entrance to Liberty Bell Center is where the slave quarters stood. So think about it. As you enter that haven of liberty, you literally have to cross the hells of slavery," said Michael Coard, an attorney with Avenging The Ancestors Coalition.

In four months, 250,000 people have come to the site's observation deck. Already the public is e-mailing suggestions for housing the invaluable artifacts found here.

"Everything from glass floors to viewing portals like we have at the Franklin house down the street," said mayor's spokesperson Joyce Wilkerson.

Bronze plates engraved with the names of enslaved Africans have been placed at the site. They will be a part of whatever monument is ultimately built here.


Return to Start Page | In the News index

historic documents, declaration, constitution, more