When construction began on the first Upper Arlington high school in 1955, an African-American cemetery that was over a century old was discovered on the site. The school district moved the newly uncovered remains, building a parking lot and possibly part of the school building itself on the site.
Now, with construction of a new high school underway at the same property, the Upper Arlington School District plans to study whether remains may still lie beneath the earth on school grounds. UA Superintendent of schools Paul Imhoff said the district is working with an archaeologist to conduct a scan of the area under the old building to identify any possible grave sites not discovered during the first high school’s construction.
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The historic cemetery uncovered at the UA high school site was established by Pleasant Litchford, a freed slave, in the 1800s. Litchford worked as a blacksmith in the area that is today Upper Arlington, and built the cemetery to accommodate members of the African-American community who were barred from burial in white cemeteries.
Construction plans for the new UA high school place the structure at the opposite end of the campus from the area known to house grave sites. According to records, the cemetery does not extend to this part of the grounds.