Corrected: Unusual sleepovers to preserve former slave homes

Tue Mar 29, 2011 4:16pm EDT
 
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(Corrects name in lead from John to Joseph)

By Harriet McLeod

CHARLESTON, South Carolina (Reuters Life!) - Armed with a sleeping bag, whistle, flashlight and journal Joseph McGill is ready to spend another night in a strange place -- a building that once housed slaves.

This week, the program officer with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, will sleep in a former slave dwelling in Egypt, Texas.

The unusual sleepover is part of his push to preserve buildings that once housed slaves, and it's just one of the overnight excursions the Charleston, South Carolina, man has planned around the country this year.

"It is usually those iconic places -- the big house, the house on the hill, the architecturally significant houses -- that are saved, and very few of the places that tell the story of African Americans," said McGill.

"Slave dwellings certainly tell that story," he added. "It's not one of those happy stories."

McGill's independent project is in its second year. Last summer, he spent the night in 10 slave cabins in South Carolina and Alabama.

This year, which marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, he has expanded the project to Texas, North Carolina, Louisiana, Maryland and Missouri.   Continued...