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Source: Philadelphia CityPaper
Date: September 29-October 5, 2005
Byline: Bruce Schimmel

Building the President's (Slave) House: Artists Please Apply

A government program getting more money than needed? And for artists, too? That's what happened recently when U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah announced a $3.6 million grant for the President's House on Independence Mall. Added to the $1.5 million already pledged by Mayor Street, the $4.5 million project has a surplus of more than half a million dollars.

City Hall took over the President's House project after the National Park Service commissioned a design that ignored how George Washington had built sleeping quarters for his slaves. Millions of visitors currently walk over an unmarked patch of ground at the entrance to the Liberty Bell pavilion, where federal funds once paid for a slave prison.

In taking over the project, the city is seeking a design that will put the slave narrative front and center, and they're hoping to find the right kind of professionals to tell it. This week, the city is expected to begin seeking a single team both to design and to build the President's House ( presidentshouse).

Insiders say that they're looking specifically for artists to make the history come alive. And now there's more than enough money to get it right this time.


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