Guest Post: The Slave Dwelling Project Comes to St. Mary’s City!

This Sunday, Joseph McGill will be visiting Historic St. Mary’s City to spend the night at the Duplex Quarter, and give a public lecture the following evening at the Visitor Center. All are welcome to the programs to visit the quarter, receive tours, spend the night with us, learn about its history, and hear about Mr. McGill’s experience with The Slave Dwelling Project! Mr. McGill offers a brief description here of his stays in Maryland, and the history of his project:

On Saturday, July 9, 2011, I spent a night in the slave cabin at Sotterley Plantation in Hollywood, Maryland. At that time, the Slave Dwelling Project was in its second year and had gained positive traction, no longer did I have to explain the intent of the project as was indicated by the invitations that I was getting from stewards of extant slave dwellings from in and out of the state of South Carolina. From the time of the first stay at Magnolia Plantation on May 10, 2010, the project had long since gone national. Starting as an attempt to bring much needed attention to buildings that are often neglected in restoration, maintenance and interpretation, now in its third year, the project has become the clearinghouse for all matters dealing with extant slave dwellings. At its inception, I thought that the list of less than ten places in year one would have satisfied my craving for sleeping in slaves cabins but I quickly realized this was a project much bigger than my personal desire. Sotterley was stay number 26 and I was accompanied by Ryan Gugerty, a student at a local college, as a result of that stay this youtube video was created.

On Sunday, September, 22, I will conduct my second stay in the state of Maryland by spending a night in the duplex quarters behind the Inn at Brome-Howard in Historic St. Mary’s City. The invitation for this stay came from an audience member associated with Historic St. Mary’s after I gave a presentation at Sweet Briar College in Sweet Briar, Virginia. Sweet Briar College was my first overnight stay in a slave dwelling located on a campus of higher learning.

The stay in the duplex quarters behind the Inn at Brome-Howard will be the 48thdwelling of which I have stayed that once housed formerly enslaved people. The stay has several elements of what has proven to work positively for the project. First, there is an invitation for others to join me in the sleep over is always good. The conversations generated inside the walls that once housed enslaved people are immense and powerful. Sometimes these groups are interspersed with descendants of slave owners and descendants of the enslaved associated with that property and they are all more than comfortable in discussing the subject of slavery. More recently, I have been fortunate to share the experience with youths and their chaperones. I always ask for volunteers to contribute to the blog that is written after every overnight stay. Second, his stay will have public programs abound. I always encourage my hosts to maximize the time that I spend in the area. To that end, at least three public programs have been planned. These programs allow me to spread the word about the importance and necessity of the project. This is increasingly important now that the project is transitioning into a member based nonprofit organization. And third, an opportunity to interact with at least one group in a classroom setting, which I will be doing with students at St. Mary’s College of Maryland on Monday.

With all of these elements coming together, this stay has great potential for success and great potential for ensuring that the duplex quarters behind the Inn at Brome-Howard will remain on the landscape restored, maintained and properly interpreted for generations to come.

Please join us for a number of programs surrounding Mr. McGill’s visit:

Sunday, starting at 3 pm: tours of the quarter from 3-4, and then brief discussions of the Duplex quarter’s history and tours of the duplex given by Terry Brock, Special Projects Researcher at Historic St. Mary’s City.

Sunday night: spend the night with Mr. McGill and Terry Brock.

Monday at 7 pm: Listen to Mr. McGill give a public lecture about the Slave Dwelling Project at 7 pm in the St. Mary’s City Visitor Center.

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