Upper Arlington discovers high school was built over former cemetery


Upper Arlington Schools may have a ghost story to tell as they build a new high school and bring down the old one.

It's been discovered an old cemetery was previously under the current parking lot.

The former landowner was a freed slave named Pleasant Litchford. He was a prominent community member, reportedly the fourth largest landowner in Perry Township when he died in 1867.

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He was a master blacksmith and founding member of the Second Baptist Church. Litchford was involved in the Underground Railroad, built a school for African-American children on his property.

He also created an African-American cemetery on his land. When his land was bought by Upper Arlington Schools in 1955, the cemetery was discovered.

The district moved 27 bodies to Union Cemetery at that time when the current high school was built. The parking lot was laid over the half-acre plot and part of the building sets on it.

This was all just brought to the attention of Upper Arlington as construction begins on the new high school. The district plans to check the grounds thoroughly.

“Where we’re going to start is with a scan of the part that is not sitting under the building right now, the grave shafts should still be visible on a scan,” said Superintendent Paul Imhoff. “We’re going to match up how many grave shafts versus how many bodies were moved and see if those numbers match.”

The district wants it to be clear, none of the new high school will be built over the former cemetery land. And they will work with experts to be certain the grounds are thoroughly examined.

They plan to incorporate the story of Pleasant Litchford as part of the history curriculum taught to students.