New Philadelphia Townsite Reconnaissance Survey

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Dear Reader,

This report is a preliminary evaluation of the New Philadelphia Townsite in Barry, Illinois, to determine the likelihood that this site would qualify for inclusion in the national park system. Reconnaissance surveys are brief, preliminary reports conducted at the request of congressional members to determine whether or not further investigation in a full special resource study is warranted. You can find the PDF of the reconnaissance survey by clicking "Document List" to the right.

The New Philadelphia Townsite is a 42-acre archeological site containing remnants of a town believed to be the first town in the United States legally registered and platted by an African-American. The townsite's national significance has been established through its National Historic Landmark designation.

A preliminary determination of suitability finds that New Philadelphia offers an unusual ability to yield information of major scientific importance to an understanding of pre-Civil War free, multi-racial, rural communities and that comparable sites are not adequately preserved and interpreted. However, this preliminary evaluation indicates that New Philadelphia archeological site would likely not be feasible to manage as a unit of the national park system. The National Park Service does not recommend that a full special resource study be conducted for this site.

Though it is likely not feasible for management by the NPS, opportunities exist for promotion and recognition of the Townsite through existing NPS programs such as Teaching with Historic Places, the Underground Railroad National Trail to Freedom, and technical assistance. Potential also exists for local, state, and/or non-profit groups to apply creative interpretive techniques to telling the story of New Philadelphia.

Thank you for your interest in this study.

Contact Information

Ruth Heikkinen
Chief, Planning and Compliance
National Park Service, Midwest Region
601 Riverfront Drive
Omaha, NE 68102