It's been a long road, but closure is almost here for local officials who have pushed for recognition of slaves in Philadelphia.
This comes after the design team for the memorial commemorating the nine slaves who worked under former President George Washington while he resided at the President's House was finally chosen this week. The unheralded slaves that are often not the topic of discussion when speaking about our nation's first president will finally be memorialized.
On Tuesday, Mayor John F. Street and Independence National Historical Park Superintendent Dennis Reidenbach held a press conference to reveal Kelly/Maiello Architects and Planners as the team selected to design the memorial. The memorial will commemorate the nine slaves who worked under George Washington while he resided at the President's House, which once stood at 6th and Market. Troy Leonard, who is an associate at Kelly/Maiello and will serve as the project manager for the memorial, was ecstatic about the decision for his company to not only add another landmark to the city, but to make history. "We are certainly honored to be considered for this," he said. "This is important to the city and the country."
The memorial will be at the exact location of the old President's House .
Reidenbach is optimistic about the notion that the memorial will not just add aesthetic value to Center City, but will educate those who may not know the bitter truth about the President House that has been raised for many years now.
"I think that is an important story to tell," Leonard said. "It's a story that people definitely need to hear."
Project manager Rosalyn McPherson said the selection process for a designer was difficult, but worth it. "It was a very rigorous process," she said. "People don't realize what we went through. I think Kelly/Maiello put together a great team with some of the greatest historians in the country."
Street, along with U.S. Congressmen and mayoral candidates Chaka Fattah and Bob Brady, chipped in $5.1 million collectively to fund the project.
The memorial will need to be tweaked slightly, but overall, Reidenbach is a fan of the design.
"It needs a little work, but I think that the concept is great," he said. "It still needs to be developed."
Oversight Committee member and President of the African-American Museum in Philadelphia Romona Riscoe Benson had no problem with the selection of the designers Kelly/Maiello. "I think the selection of Kelly/Maiello is great," she said. "I think they will manage it very well."
The memorial is slated to be built in the spring of 2008.