Joseph McGill

Joseph McGill, founder of The Slave Dwelling Project.

The Columbia Historic Preservation Society and the Ware Center of Millersville University will host the Slave Dwelling Project’s first official visit to Lancaster County Friday and Saturday.

The Slave Dwelling Project, headed by Joseph McGill, is dedicated to preserving surviving African American slave dwellings and seeks to change the narrative around the history of slavery in the United States.

McGill will co-host the local events, which are open to the public.

Events include:

A lecture by McGill followed by a tour of the new museum exhibit “Underground Railroad: Destination Columbia,’’ Fri. 3 p.m. at the Columbia Historic Preservation Society. A walking tour of abolitionist Columbia follows at 4:30 p.m. Tickets are $20. Call 717-572-7149.

A public forum with McGill and others addressing the history of slavery in Lancaster, Sat. 11 a.m. at the Ware Center. Admission is free.

A walking tour of African American heritage sites in downtown Lancaster, Saturday at 2 p.m. from the Lancaster City Visitor Center, 38 Penn Square. Cost is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, $5 for college students and $2 for youth 6-18.

In an online interview with Lee & Low Books, McGill explains that preserving African American slave dwellings is important in providing a complete picture of American history.

“Preserving only the architecturally significant buildings supports a false narrative,’’ he says. “This false narrative suggests that the purging of Native Americans was just; interning Japanese Americans during World War II was just; the lynchings that occurred in this nation were just.”

While in Lancaster, McGill will spend the night with an invited group inside the Columbia Bank Building, which once housed African Americans seeking to escape slavery.

For information on the Slave Dwelling project, visit

What to Read Next