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Source: Philadelphia Tribune
Date: August 6, 2009
Byline: Robert Hightower

Construction continues at President's House site

Construction crews have already moved on what will be a memorial to the slaves that lived and toiled at the President’s House.

Abdul R. Sulayman/Tribune Chief Photographer
Clifford Brock, owner of BrockBrothers Construction Company, of Yeadon, prepares the Presidents House site for construction.

As it stands now, a team of demolitionists has knocked down the viewing platform that stood for two years in order to prepare the site at Sixth and Market streets for the next phase of construction earlier this week.

An announcement with details on the groundbreaking at the site is expected in the next two weeks. The demolition was the second part of the preparation. The initial phase took place when an archeological dig occurred in 2007 on the site, which yielded a finding of the original foundation of the house.

The demolition was operated by Brock Brother’s Construction Company, an African-American owned business. Owner Clifford Brock said he was proud to be selected as one of the subcontractors for the job.

“It’s been a long time coming,” he said. “I’m hoping that we could do more historical work. It’s really a life changing experience, no doubt about it.”

Brock’s hiring comes on the heels of a heated meeting that took place earlier this year between Kelly/Maiello Management and the Daniel J. Keating Company, the project team for the President’s House, and aspiring subcontractors who wanted a piece a work that was projected to take place on the site.

Being an African-American owned business having the chance to work on the site has major significance, according to Brock.

“If not, it would be a total contradiction. ... When you look at what so many Black people before me fought for, some saw it come to fruition and some haven’t,” said Brock.

Project manager Rosalyn McPherson said another crop of subcontractors would be announced on Aug. 19.

“All of the other people who have received contracts haven’t been announced yet,” said McPherson.

McPherson added that she was impressed by the progress Brock has made regarding his company.

“When he came to the first public meeting once we officially started the project, he was in the process of formulating has company. Now he actually has the company. I think that is a really neat thing that in the time since we first started, he has launched his firm and has the opportunity to play an important role in the project,” she said.

The President’s House was lived in by Presidents George Washington and John Adams along with as many as nine slaves owned by Washington.

Adams, however, didn’t own slaves.

The project is slated for completion by 2010.


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