Plaza to honor Black graves that were paved under parking lot
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.
- About 30 graves, including Litchford's, were moved to other cemeteries.
- But in 2020, when the old high school was demolished to build a new one, archeologists uncovered six additional graves. Authors of a 2017 book, "Secrets under the Parking Lot," first alerted the community to the buried history as plans for a new building began.
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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