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Excavation reveals 15 grave shafts, confirming at least 54 graves at destroyed Black cemetery site in Clearwater

The North Greenwood Cemetery was destroyed decades ago when the city built a segregated swimming pool and school.

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Editor's note: The video above is from reporting earlier this week.

An excavation at the old Curtis Fundamental School in Clearwater revealed 15 grave shafts, confirming at least 54 graves from the destroyed North Greenwood cemetery, which was destroyed in the 1950s when the city made plans to build a segregated swimming pool and school for the African American community.

The graves were confirmed through a process called "ground-truthing," in which archaeologists use machinery to carefully remove the top layers of soil to determine the presence of graves. No remains are disturbed in this process.

Prior to ground-truthing, archaeologists used ground-penetrating radar at the school site to detect graves. They detected 54 graves with the possibility of 19 more. When the ground-truthing process physically revealed 15 grave shafts, it allowed archaeologists to confirm the radar results showing 54 graves without having to dig further on the property.

During the ground-truthing process, archaeologists said they also found "grave-related objects and artifacts." 

Archeologists say they will provide an update at noon Friday detailing their findings to city leaders, the NAACP and the community. 

RELATED: Archaeologists start 'ground-truthing' to confirm graves from destroyed Black cemetery in Clearwater

The city says local community members have stopped by the cemetery site located near the intersection of Holt Avenue and Engman Street to share their memories and knowledge about the cemetery and those who were buried there. 

RELATED: 'There are human remains here': Neighbor remembers bones 30 years after city said graves were moved

Archeologists say information about the cemetery is valuable to understanding more about the cemetery and its place within the community and have asked for more people to come forward who have knowledge about the cemetery, according to the city. 

When the cemetery was destroyed decades ago, the city reportedly told neighbors all the graves had been moved. 

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