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Source: pennlive.com
Date: December 12, 2007
Byline: Associated Press

Memorial will expose remnants of home where Washington had slaves

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A planned memorial marking the spot where George Washington lived as president with several slaves will be modified to allow visitors to see archaeological remnants of the home, project officials said.

The new design for the President's House, to be unveiled Thursday, shows a glass structure over an excavated part of the site where remains of a slave passageway were discovered. Also found was the outline of a bow window that some consider the architectural precursor to the Oval Office.

Washington and John Adams each lived at the President's House — just steps from Independence Hall — when Philadelphia was the nation's capital between 1790 and 1800. Adams never owned slaves, but Washington kept at least nine at the mansion.

The original design for the memorial, meant to mark the presence of slavery at the doorstep of liberty, was chosen in February on the assumption that nothing remained of the house, which was demolished in the 1830s.

But an archaeological dig that preceded construction revealed the slave passageway and other vestiges. The findings were so extensive that the National Park Service built a platform on which an estimated 250,000 visitors watched the excavation over the summer.

City officials, who have managed the memorial design process in partnership with the park service, then asked architectural firm Kelly/Maiello to revisit its design.

The newest proposal retains much of the original plan, which traces the building's outline and uses video and audio exhibits to describe daily life for Washington and his slaves.

The revised elements, such as the glass structure, will increase the memorial's cost from about $5.4 million to $7 million.

The new design is conceptual and some details could change before construction begins, project manager Rosalyn McPherson said Wednesday.

The plan will be unveiled Thursday night at the Freedom Theatre along with several rejected proposals, and officials will discuss why those were not chosen, she said.

 

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