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Source: Philadelphia Tribune
Date: May 4, 2007
Byline: Robert Hightower

President's House remnants found

Archeologists have found remnants of the original house that was inhabited by George Washington and as many as nine slaves that he owned.

The President's House that once stood on Sixth and Market streets served as the "White House" when Philadelphia was capital of the United States.

Last year the National Park Service and the Independence National Historic Park held a contest inviting various architect teams to come up with a design that would commemorate the edifice.

After much deliberation it was decided that the task would go to Kelly/Maiello Architects and Planners.

Before the design could be erected, an archeological dig had to be performed to determine if any artifacts were still in the vicinity.

On Friday, archeologists found what is considered a breakthrough discovery by research director Jed Levin.

Levin, who works for the National Park Service, was elated about finding the original house foundation.

"There is something exciting about finding something that goes back 200 years," he said. "Here is something tangible that dates back to that time."

Project manager Roz McPherson said discovering the small foundations of the house was a momentous occasion because of the uncertainty of what could be found during a dig.

"This is so exciting because when the dig started, we didn't know what we were going to find," she said.

McPherson also said that what makes the President's House discovery so significant is the fact that artifacts are rarely found.

"How often does a city in this country get a chance to discover history?" she said.

Levin noted that the remains give a direct idea of what the house looked like.

"The small wall shows that it was the back wall of the house while the other walls show the kitchen area," he said. "You can see where slaves worked in the house. It's a direct connection to not only Washington, but the slaves that worked there."

The dig will resume for about a month after which time construction on the memorial will begin. Funding for the memorial came from Mayor John F. Street, who pledged a million dollars. Congressmen Bob Brady and Chaka Fattah chipped in $3.6 million.

McPherson said the President's House is important to everyone.

"The Philadelphia House gives us a basis for telling about our history," she said.

 

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