Joseph McGill, Jr., Founder and Executive Director of The Slave Dwelling Project.
Joseph McGill, Jr., Founder and Executive Director of The Slave Dwelling Project.

They tell us our history of our enslaved Ancestors is irrelevant and we should get over it.

Joseph McGill Jr., a historic preservationist and Civil War reenactor, founded the Slave Dwelling Project in 2010 based on an idea that was sparked and first developed in 1999. Since founding the project, McGill has been touring the country, spending the night in former slave dwellings—throughout the South, but also the North and the West, where people are often surprised to learn that such structures exist. The project has inspired difficult conversations about race in communities all over the United States.

From September 29 until October 1, 2023, McGill will stay at the Boyette Slave and Schoolhouse courtesy of the Johnson County Heritage Center, NC 222 & Glendale Rd. in Kenly, NC. The Boyette Slave and Schoolhouse was built in the 1830s on the Boyette family farm in northern Johnston County which dates back to colonial North Carolina circa 1797.

The 12 x 16 one-room log dwelling was built for the Boyette’s slaves and was made from pine timber from the farm with full-dovetailed notches and dowels. The unique chimney is made entirely of heart-of-pine sticks and daubed with clay base mortar and is the only structures of its kind still standing in NC.

From 1890-1910 the building was used as a neighborhood school. In 1979, the building was restored by the Boyette Family and was placed on the national Register of Historical Places. The Boyette Slave House is a rare example of a type of structure and construction method which originated in medieval building traditions and since the end of slavery has nearly disappeared from the architectural history of NC.

McGill has stayed at more than 70 plantations and residences.

In an interview with, Joseph McGill, Jr. gives us a wider perspective into the history of our ancestors. By spending time in dwellings where our enslaved ancestors lived, he changes the narrative about our shared history, exposing flaws in the history we were taught: indigenous people were not the enemy, enslaved people were not happy with their lot in life, and the people enslaving them were not benevolent.

Read the full interview, “Changing the Narrative One Slave Dwelling at a Time,” at

Visit to learn more about the Slave Dwelling Project.