Best Kept Secret, The

Produced by: 
Lawnside Historical Society

Individual Film Price:

Higher Education Institutions & Government Agency DVD | $49.95
K-12 & Public Libraries DVD | $49.95
Home Video DVD License – Restrictions Apply | $5.95



Community Visions Compilation Price:

This video is available for purchase as part of a Community Visions Vol. 10 compilation DVD.

Higher Education Institutions & Government Agency DVD | $139.00
K-12 & Public Libraries DVD | $79.00
Home Video DVD License – Restrictions Apply | $20.00



Scribe Video Center Program:

The Community Visions program teaches documentary video-making skills to members of community organizations in Philadelphia, Chester and Camden (NJ). A powerful way to document community concerns, celebrate cultural diversity, and comment on the human condition, Community Visions is a part of Scribe’s mission to explore, develop and advance the use of video, film, audio and interactive technology as artistic tools and as tools for progressive social change.


Project Facilitator: Julian Berrian and Donna Lee


Film Summary:

The video takes viewers on a tour of the home of Peter Mott, once a safe haven on the Underground Railroad, for which he served as a "conductor." Mott, a free African American man, abolitionist and real estate entrepreneur, didn't have much by today's standards. But considered by 19th-century mores, he was exceptional. And he risked everything to help enslaved Africans be free.

The documentary features dramatizations, Mott-savvy Lawnside residents, historical preservationists, architects and other community members, local efforts to save and extensively renovate the house, and what this piece of history -- almost lost to a bulldozer and replaced by pristine townhouses in the late 1980s -- means to Lawnside and the larger world.

The Lawnside Historical Society's mission is to preserve and protect the heritage of Lawnside, N.J., the state's only African-American incorporated municipality, by restoring the Peter Mott House for use as a museum and station along the Underground Railroad, the clandestine network to freedom for fugitives in the 19th century. The Society conducts tours of the Peter Mott House and provides speakers for groups and organizations. In December 2005, the New Jersey Council for the Humanities awarded Lawnside Historical Society a $3000 grant to create an oral history project.



Public Screenings, Broadcasts and Festivals: 

December 11, 2002 | Part of Community Visions premiere at the Prince Music Theater (Philadelphia, PA)
July 29, 2003 & August 2, 2003 | Broadcast on WYBE-TV's Philadelphia Stories, Season 3 (Philadelphia, PA)
2004 | Lawnside Scholarship Club Luncheon (Lawnside, NJ)
February 2004 | Lawnside Public School (Lawnside, NJ)
2004-2005 | Peter Mott House (regular screenings throughout the year)
January 15-April 25, 2005 | A 20-minute version of The Best Kept Secret was shown twice daily at the Atwater Kent Museum as part of its "Small Towns, Black Lives" exhibit (Philadelphia, PA)
March & April 2005 | Kent Atwater Museum (regular screenings)


Film Stills: