Jacksonian Gazette


Slave Dwelling Project Founder Visits The Hermitage


The Hermitage welcomed Joseph McGill, founder of the Slave Dwelling Project, on Friday May 23 when he visited Nashville to sleep in former slave cabins. McGill has been spending nights in former slave cabins for the last several years to both publicize the importance of preserving these buildings and to remind us that the people who lived in these cabins were not footnotes to American history.

Hermitage staff members Debbie Bourne and Marsha Mullin as well as teenage volunteers Andrew Triplett and Sidney Brumbach and Sidney’s mother Leslie Brumbach stayed with McGill in the kitchen building of the First Hermitage.  We were excited to learn that The Hermitage was McGill’s first presidential site stay. The night before visiting The Hermitage, he stayed at Clover Bottom and the night after he stayed at Belle Meade Plantation.

Because The Hermitage was held in trust almost immediately after the Jacksons’ departure, we have a comprehensive and unimpeachable collection of nearly one million artifacts. Most of the collection is today searchable through www.daacs.org, the Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery, which studies sites in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Eastern United States. With nearly one million artifacts represented in the database, The Hermitage is considered the finest resource for slavery west of the Appalachian Mountains.

McGill has a website, www.slavedwellingproject.org and a Facebook page.  The Slave Dwelling Project has just been certified as a 501 (c) 3 not-for-profit organization and will have its first ever conference in September. 

Bourne, Brumbach, Triplett, McGill, Mullin
Bourne, Brumbach, Triplett, McGill, Mullin

Our stay in the First Hermitage was a chance to reflect on the importance of these fragile log buildings and on the meaning of the history that they represent. We are privileged to have three standing cabins and the archaeological record of at least seven others to tell the story of the enslaved workers on Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage farm.