North Market construction could unearth historic cemetery

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — There are new concerns as plans continue for a high-rise residential building in the North Market area. 

Construction is expected to begin in 2018, but there’s concern workers could be building on North Graveyard, a cemetery from the 1800s.

“We would find a skull next to a foot, a toe or finger bone,” said archaeologist Ryan Weller.

In 2001 Weller was working on a sewer line project and discovered over 50 pieces of human remains.

“In one of the instances we found a complete child about, I would say, three to five years old,” said Weller.

READ MORE: Plans to revamp North Market include 35-story mixed-use tower

The old graveyard extends from Spruce Street to north of the railroad tracks. A city ordinance dating back to the 1800s says if a developer builds on this land they must move the graves to Green Lawn Cemetery.

”All that we found have been removed and replaced in kind out there, but I guarantee there is still some that remain,” Weller said.

The head architect for the North Market Tower project, Bob Loversidge said in a statement, “Construction on this site will require sensitivity to not just the historic neighborhood, but the history that lies below its surface. The development team is very mindful of the need to proceed with this project in a considerate manner. The State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) has already issued some guidelines on how to treat any remains or artifacts that may be found on the site, and our team will work in close consultation with SHPO to develop a more detailed plan for the respectful treatment of human remains. We understand citizens’ concerns that these be treated with dignity, and we are committed to doing so.”

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