Photography Exhibition At Independence Visitor Center Explores President's House In A New Light
Contact: Lauren Tosti
215.925.6101, ext. 6117
PHILADELPHIA, PA — (April 14, 2008) The Independence Visitor Center presents a special photographic exhibition of the archeological discoveries at the President's House Site, home to Presidents Washington and Adam from 1790-1800 when Philadelphia was the nation's capital. President Washington's household included nine enslaved Africans, who lived and toiled in this house; two of the enslaved escaped to freedom from this house. The exhibit will offer visitors another opportunity to see the unexpected discoveries found in 2007, including the original wall foundations for the kitchen basement and a bow window that may have been a prototype for the White House Oval Office. Remnants of an underground service passage between the kitchen and main house were also discovered.
The exhibit will be on display beginning April 24 at the Center, 6th and Market Streets, in Philadelphia. More information about the exhibit is available at www,independencevisitoreenter.com. More information about the President's House site is to be found at www.NPS.gov/INDE.
Photographer John E. Dowel1 Jr., a professor at Temple University, said that the exhibit is intended not only to capture the hypocrisy present in America's history but also to emphasize the legacy of survival passed on by the slaves. Dowel1 took most of the photos at night to signify the lack of exposure given to Washington's slaves both in the past and present. "These photos capture the excavation site with some of the nation's strongest symbols of liberty and freedom, such as the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall," said Dowell, "in order to highlight some of the ironies present in the nation's founding."
Dowell's motivation to disseminate this archaeological dig through photographs builds upon his interest in the slaves' ability to persevere. "My first reaction to the site," continued Dowell, an African American, "was being struck by the fact that my ancestors had survived this."
Bill Moore, president and CEO of the Independence Visitor Center, believes that this exhibit will build upon the interest of last summer's excavation. "Archaeologists were counting 5,000 to 6,000 daily visitors," said Moore. "The excavation gave people an opportunity to look in and see firm physical evidence of the ironies of promised liberty and freedom for people who were not free in this country. The photography exhibit is a chance to continue the dialogue of what it means to live in a country founded by both freedom fighters as well as slaves."
"The National Park Service is working with the City of Philadelphia to commemorate the historic site illustrating the evidence of freedom and slavery in making the new nation and highlighting the human commitment to survival," said Cynthia MacLeod, Superintendent of Independence National Historical Park.