BETHESDA, Md. (WUSA) -- The future of the Josiah Henson site, formerly known as Uncle Tom's Cabin, now sits with the public. The movement to transform the slave-holding plantation into a historic site and public museum is underway.
The Museum Manager for the Montgomery County Department of Parks, Shirl Spicer said,"What we want to do is make sure people meet the man behind the myth, Uncle Tom, and that would be the Reverend Josiah Henson."
Reverend Josiah Henson was a clergyman, a self-emancipated former slave, a businessman and a military officer.
"Reverend Josiah Henson was an extraordinary individual," said Historian CR Gibbs.
Henson worked on Isaac Riley's farm on Old Georgetown Road, known as Uncle Tom's Cabin.
Spicer noted Henson was both a strong-willed and physically strong man.
"On this property he was the superintendent, as he called himself, but an overseer for Riley's plantation," added Henson.
Through Henson's endeavors, Riley was able to have a functional and profitable plantation in that time period. That was his life's story, which he wrote in the 1849 narrative that inspires Harriet Beecher Stowe's landmark novel in 1852, Uncle Tom's Cabin.
Gibbs said, "Slavery was essential to the economic vitality to Montgomery County, and we should never forget that."
Gibbs told 9NEWS NOW the public has a matchless opportunity to take a look at a pre-civil war structure to tell the story that has not been told before.
"But with this place, we have a chance to bring together the strands of farming, of slavery, to tell the interconnected and complex story that has long since been desired to be told," Gibbs said.
Gibbs also said there is no meaningful opposition to the establishment of a historical museum that he knows of. He did say that a higher volume of traffic may create concerns for some residents.
The Commission held a community meeting at Tilden Middle School on Old Georgetown Road Tuesday evening to get public input on the plan.
Written by Alex Trevino
9NEWS NOW & wusa9.com