Return to Home PageThe President's House

In the News index

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Date: December 15, 2007
Byline: Stephan Salisbury

President's House to get $1.5 million more from Phila.

The new design incorporating archaeological findings into commemoration of the President's House received little comment at a public meeting Thursday night.

While some audience members expressed concern that the memorial, designed to acknowledge the nine enslaved Africans who lived in the house during the presidency of George Washington, will soften the brutalities of slavery, public officials said there would be no such effort.

Roz McPherson, representing the city's interest in the joint project with the National Park Service, said the goal of the effort remains unchanged: "Honoring the enslaved Africans and marking the site of the first presidential mansion."

Joyce Wilkerson, Mayor Street's chief of staff, said the city now will contribute an additional $1.5 million to the project. The funds will be drawn from a $150 million city bond supporting cultural, park and neighborhood economic development.

The meeting attracted an audience of about 150 people to Freedom Theater on North Broad Street. Emanuel Kelly, principal of Kelly/Maiello Architects & Planners, sketched out five possible designs for the memorial, which will be located at the corner of Sixth and Market Streets. On that site, now part of Independence Mall, Washington and his successor, John Adams, shaped the American presidency in the last decade of the 18th century.

Excavation at the site during the summer attracted keen public interest, prompting officials to seek a revised memorial design that would make use of the uncovered archaeological remains, including foundations for Washington's great bow window and the kitchen presided over by his enslaved chef, Hercules.

The project had been budgeted at about $5.4 million, all of which is in hand. The revised design will increase the cost to about $7 million. Officials said they want to raise at least $10 million to create a small endowment for maintenance and programming.

The city has now contributed $3 million in capital funds, plus the cost of the summer's excavation, about $800,000. The federal government has allocated $3.6 million. U.S. Reps. Bob Brady and Chaka Fattah, both Philadelphia Democrats, said they would work to seek additional federal funding.

Officials said the memorial is slated to open in 2009.

 

Return to Start Page | In the News index

historic documents, declaration, constitution, more