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Source: Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography
Date: April 2007
Byline: Tamara Gaskell Miller

Editorial: President's House Update

On February 27, 2007, Philadelphia's Mayor John Street and Independence National Historical Park's Superintendent Dennis Reidenbach announced the choice of the Kelly/Maiello Architects and Planners team's designs for the President's House site. Readers can view the design at http://www.phila.gov/presidentshouse/kellymaiello.htm

The February announcement was the culmination of a competitive process that began in October 2005 with a Request for Qualifications, but which had its origins in an article by Edward Lawler Jr. published in the January 2002 PMHB that drew attention to the site itself and to the fact that several of George Washington's slaves lived on the site, the birthplace of American freedom. Lawler's ground-breaking research would not have been possible were it not for the invaluable collections housed at and carefully preserved by The Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Without HSP's archives and publications, this important site for the city and the nation would have remained both literally and figuratively buried, making both our understanding of our past and our prospects for our future poorer.

Kelly/Maiello, an award-winning firm with African-American leadership that has worked in Philadelphia for over thirty years, plans an installation that will draw on Lawler's work and the articles published in a subsequent special issue of PMHB on the President's House published in October 2005, to place incomplete walls around the site of the original house, giving visitors a sense of place and that will also define the slave quarters, where Washington's slaves lived. The compelling stories of those who lived and worked here will be shared through audio and interactive visual technologies. The team will include Richard Rabinowitz and his American History Workshop, a consortium of historians, writers, designers, and filmmakers experienced in public exhibits, as well as historians Gary Nash, James Oliver Horton, and Julie Winch. And there will be public participation throughout the process. Dedication of the site is expected in early 2008.

 

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