Established in 2022, New Philadelphia National Historic Site preserves the townsite of the first known town planned and legally registered by an African American before the Civil War. Located in western Illinois, New Philadelphia was founded in 1836 by Frank McWorter, a formerly enslaved man from Kentucky who bought the freedom of himself and 15 family members. The rural community flourished at first, but later declined and dissolved in 1885.
The town of New Philadelphia dissolved over the years as plows turned over the land, but the town’s story has survived through historical documents, oral histories from town descendants and community members, and artifacts. Several organizations and individuals have worked together to protect and interpret the site and conduct archeological and historical research to learn more. The protection of the original location will permanently safeguard it for future generations and is currently managed by the New Philadelphia Association. NPS will work to establish a presence at the site so visitors can journey to learn and explore the life and legacy of McWorter and the town of New Philadelphia.
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