Feb 8, 2022 - News

Plaza to honor Black graves that were paved under parking lot

An architect's rendering of Litchford Plaza, an overview

An architect's rendering of the planned Litchford Plaza. Image: MKSK, courtesy of Upper Arlington City Council

A new pedestrian plaza will honor a cemetery for Black residents that was paved under a parking lot when the original Upper Arlington High School was built in 1956.

Why it matters: As part of a new city history trail, Litchford Plaza and its signage will recognize local Black history that was once erased.

Catch up quick: Through eminent domain, the Upper Arlington school district took the half-acre of cemetery land from descendants of Pleasant Litchford, a freed slave who settled in the area in the 1830s and became a blacksmith and wealthy land owner.

The latest: On Monday, the Upper Arlington City Council approved $100,000 for the plaza project, which is located near the new high school that opened last year. The district will contribute $200,000.

  • The goal is to finish it before summer.
  • Litchford's descendants have helped with planning and the district has also added lessons about him into its local history curriculum.

What they're saying: "The first thing we have to do about our history is always be honest about it. This is part of our history," superintendent Paul Imhoff told ThisWeek News.

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