The City of Philadelphia, the National Park Service and the Independence National Historical Park held a public forum at the Community College of Philadelphia to give a status report on the President's House memorial.
The house will honor those enslaved Africans who served under the presidency of George Washington at the United States' first recognized "White House," which is now called Independence Mall.
With expectations of being completed by the summer of 2007, Mayor John Street took the first financial initiative. He pledged $1.5 million in city funds towards the project, while U.S. Reps. Chaka Fattah and Robert Brady committed the remaining $3.6 million from a federal grant.
The memorial which is being called "The President's House: Freedom and Slavery in Making a New Nation" is expected to be a symbol of history that could possibly become Philadelphia's most popular tourist attraction.
"The commemoration of the President's House is one of the most important civic engagement projects in the National Park Service today," said Dennis Reidenbach, acting superintendent of the historical park.
With its high expectations, the mayor and the historical park have worked diligently to form an oversight committee to man the step-by-step process of the project.
"The mayor has been pretentious with this," said Reidenbach. "He has created an unique partnership with the people who are working on this project."
The oversight committee consists of former president and CEO of the African-American Museum in Philadelphia Terri Rouse and Rosalyn McPherson. McPherson is the former vice president of the Franklin Institute, who was also instrumental in helping to design the city's Love Park.
McPherson, who said she views this task as a honor, served as the spokeswoman for Thursday's meeting, where she provided up-to-date information about what has happened thus far with project.
She was responsible for answering any questions or taking suggestions that the general public had for the memorial.
"We want to make sure that the public is involved, and this was the first chance we had," she said.
To date, the city and the oversight committee have issued "Request for Qualifications" nationwide. This is intended to seek teams that are interested in designing the new memorial.
"So far we have got a good response," said McPherson. "We've received 21 responses from all over the country, and even got some interested celebrities."
As of Tribune press time, McPherson would not comment on which celebrities or companies responded.
With expectations of keeping the public informed throughout the project, the committees will have forums up until July 4, 2007, the expected opening date.
"With a project like this, public input is important," said McPherson.
There are no official dates given for the next forum.