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African Burying Ground Design Presentation Postponed

November 13, 2008                       

PORTSMOUTH – Presentation of the conceptual design plan for the African Burying Ground, which was scheduled for 7:00 p.m. on Monday November 17th will be postponed to a future “to be determined” date.  The postponement comes as a result of today’s discovery of additional human remains on Chestnut Street identified during test excavations initiated by the City earlier this week.

The test excavations followed the development of a conceptual plan for the African Burying Ground memorial and were needed prior to more detailed final engineering and design work and, ultimately, construction of the memorial.  The intent of the excavation work was to verify that there were no graves in the first 2½ feet below the existing street in those areas where below grade construction of statue foundations, drainage structures and the like would needto take place in order to construct the African Burying Ground memorial.  The work was carried out under the on-site direction of Dr. Kathleen Wheeler of Independent Archaeological Consulting following discussions with State Archaeologist Dr. Richard Boisvert.  Dr. Boisvert joined Dr. Wheeler on site today once the human remains were discovered. 

According to Deputy City Manager Cindy Hayden, “What the community needs to carefullybalance is how to transform this section of Chestnut Street to honor those buried there, while not disturbing those buried there.  Based on today’s new information about the depth and location of additional human remains, the African Burying Ground Committee will be working with the State Archaeologist and consulting archaeologist Dr. Kathleen Wheeler on just how to accomplish that. Since there is the definite possibility we will need to modify the design, we want to postpone the public design presentation so we don’t create expectations we may be unable to meet.”  

The City will be providing additional information to the community as it becomes available.  A short section of one lane of Chestnut Street will remain closed temporarily.

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