The President’s House: Freedom and Slavery in the Making of a New Nation (2010)

by Emanuel Kelly
Kelly/Maiello Architects
Lorene Cary (1956 - )
Louis Massiah

Photo Caption: Photo Alec Rogers © 2014 for the Association for Public Art

Commissioned by the City of Philadelphia and the National Parks Service

Owned by the Independence National Historic Park, National Parks Service

At A Glance

  • The open-air installation was designed to give visitors a sense of the house where the first two presidents of the United States served their terms of office

  • The commemorative site pays homage to nine documented enslaved persons of African descent who were part of the Washington household

  • A glass vitrine overlooks structural remains uncovered during a 2007 archeological dig

The open-air installation was designed to give visitors a sense of the house where the first two presidents of the United States, George Washington and John Adams, served their terms of office. The commemorative site pays homage to nine documented enslaved persons of African descent who were part of the Washington household and addresses the topic of slavery in the early history of the United States.

President's House
Photo Alec Rogers © 2014 for the Association for Public Art

Included are brick foundation walls that are representative of the original architecture of the house; five motion-activated video screens with stories depicting the lives of the enslaved; illustrated glass panels and porcelain text panels; a glass vitrine overlooking structural remains uncovered during a 2007 archeological dig; bronze footprints symbolizing the road to freedom; a wooden and glass memorial space for solemn reflection, etched with tribal names and the places of origin of the millions of Africans who were brought to America; and a granite wall etched with the names of the nine documented enslaved individuals: Austin, Christopher, Giles, Hercules, Joe, Moll, Oney Judge, Paris, and Richmond.

 

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