May 8, 2010 |
At a raucous and sometimes profane public meeting Friday night, critics denounced plans for the President's House memorial under construction on Independence Mall. City and project officials, who had not conducted a session to update the public on the oft-delayed project for almost three years, sought to present a newly revised interpretive plan for the site where George Washington and John Adams conducted their presidencies and Washington held at least nine enslaved Africans. But before Emanuel Kelly, principal of Kelly/Maiello Architects & Planners, designers of the memorial at Sixth and Market Streets, could discuss the status of construction, he was interrupted by a chorus of loud complaints over the use of a white-owned general contractor at the site, and a torrent of criticism over the site's overall presentation of the black experience.
October 10, 2009 |
A committee overseeing the President's House memorial on Independence Mall has agreed to proceed as planned after discussing recent criticism of the project's historical accuracy. In late summer, Edward Lawler, who represents the Independence Hall Association on the committee, had complained that the design improperly located important memorial elements. The President's House, at Sixth and Market Streets, is on the site where George Washington and John Adams conducted their presidencies during the 1790s, and where Washington held at least nine enslaved Africans.
August 31, 2009 |
Philadelphia is about to make history by reconstructing the building that has been referred to as America's first White House, where George Washington and John Adams presided from 1790 to 1800, and where Washington kept black people as slaves. But the design of the project next to the Liberty Bell Center has recently come under harsh criticism for purported historical inaccuracies. While this criticism is sincere and well-intended, it is fundamentally flawed. The critics say the project's dimensions are wrong.
August 20, 2009 |
As construction of the President's House memorial is poised to begin, sharp criticisms have been leveled at the architectural design, catching officials by surprise and focusing attention on purportedly historically inaccurate elements of the project. The house's dimensions are incorrect, the arc of a bow window is distorted, and the building's now-infamous slave quarters are incorrectly located, the critics assert. Some historians and members of a committee charged with reviewing the memorial's design and content say they are stunned by the vehemence of the complaints.
August 3, 2009 |
For most Philadelphians, the name Chew is not particularly evocative. Perhaps it conjures a hazy sense of Founding Fathers living in gentility and getting a street named after them for their efforts. Some may be aware that Cliveden, the formidable stone mansion on Germantown Avenue where the Battle of Germantown was fought in 1777, was built by Benjamin Chew in the 1760s and served as a country retreat. That's probably about it. But such haziness soon may be dramatically dispersed.
July 1, 2008 |
To George and Martha Washington, her owners, she was "the girl. " To the framers of the Constitution, who she was didn't matter - she was three-fifths of a person, a chattel slave. Oney Judge was only about 16 when she came to Philadelphia, the nation's temporary capital, in 1790. A few years later, she learned she was about to be given away by the Washingtons as a wedding gift. She gathered herself up and refused, defying the president, the Constitution, and all the powerful forces arrayed against her. She escaped.
June 13, 2007
I THANK Michael Smerconish for spreading the word (May 31) about the archaeological dig at the President's House site at 6th and Market, where George Washington presided from 1790- 1797 with nine of his 316 enslaved Africans from Mount Vernon. Smerconish correctly noted that the dig recently uncovered partial foundations of the bow window, the prototype for today's Oval Office. But in regard to the partial foundations of the walls of the kitchen, he is incorrect in noting that the kitchen had a basement so those blacks could move between it and the main house "without going outside.
April 2, 2007
The 200th anniversary last week of the end of the British slave trade, the ongoing controversy over George Washington's slave quarters at the President's House site at Sixth and Market Streets, and the proposed demolition of a house outside Princeton containing slave quarters ("N.J. slave quarters threatened," March 26), bring to mind how little we know (or have been taught) about slavery. I attended last spring's "Slavery in New York" exhibit at the New York Historical Society, and one statistic bowled me over more than anything else in the show.
March 7, 2007 |
HUMAN harnesses. Small ankle irons used to shackle children to their mothers. A collar and leash for the slave of a well-to-do white mistress. A horrible Jim Crow-era placard showing black children as "alligator bait. " The exhibit at the National Constitution Center three years ago featured slavery artifacts collected by a New Jersey couple who had found these vestiges in barns and attics, and hanging on the walls of stores across the South - not-so-rare antiques of a not-so-distant past.