Watch CBS News

Community members gather to unveil memorial for woman who saved historic Stenton house: "We consider her as a hero"

Unveiling of memorial for heroic woman who saved historic Stenton House draws community together
Unveiling of memorial for heroic woman who saved historic Stenton House draws community together 02:06

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Dozens of people gathered at the historic Stenton house in Nicetown to honor and recognize a woman whose quick thinking saved this piece of Philadelphia history.

"We consider her as a hero," community member Curtis McAllister said.

Her name is Dinah.

She's a former slave and caretaker of the Stenton house built by former Philadelphia Mayor James Logan in the 1700s. Dinah is a relatively unknown African American figure who saved the home from being burned down by British soldiers during the Revolutionary War.

But her story was much more than the legendary tale.

On April 15, 2023, Stenton celebrated the very first Dinah Day! On that exact date in 1776, Dinah gained her freedom...

Posted by Stenton on Saturday, April 20, 2024

"We learned she had agency that she had requested and gained her freedom," said Dennis Pickeral, the executive director of Stenton Historic House Museum. "We learned she had been separated from her husband when she came to Stenton but she managed to reunite her family."

On Saturday, community members gathered to unveil a memorial in her honor and to continue to build up her legacy for her contributions to the city and this country.

Karen Olivier created the memorial and talked during the event.

"We honor her with our care, no one lives forever but in our active engagement with her memory, Dinah will live on, remembered for saving this house and not for serving in it," Olivier said.

Pickeral said Dinah's life is a jumping-off point to tell the stories of African American figures who have been forgotten in history.

"She's [a] representative of a lot of other stories that have been ignored for so long and these are people who all contributed to our nation's history to the building of America and we want to recognize that and tell that story in its totality," he said.

The museum said the Dinah Memorial is the first monument to honor an enslaved Black woman in Philadelphia.

State Rep. Chris Rabb also said he's in talks with SEPTA to work on changing Stenton Station to Dinah Station.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.