Progress lagging on President's House project (Philly)





More than seven years after Congress directed the National Park Service "to appropriately commemorate" the presidential home in Philadelphia - where at least nine of George Washington's slaves toiled - no workable interpretive program explaining the site and its significance is ready for public discussion, project managers say.

Mayor Nutter has seen no text, images, or panels, and the design team developing the descriptive historical material has been told to rework it at least twice, according to numerous officials.

Should the President's House memorial highlight the worlds of Washington and John Adams and the formation of the nation and presidency? Should it focus on the world of Washington's slaves? What was slavery's role in early Philadelphia? How should such contradictory, clashing themes be balanced? How can the nine slaves best be memorialized? Such questions, there at the project's onset, are still unresolved, though passionately debated.

Members of a committee convened by the city and the Park Service to monitor the project now express frustration, and outside historians and concerned citizens in the black community believe they are being kept uninformed about what is going on.


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