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'This is going to bring a lot of healing' | New historical marker honors destroyed North Greenwood Cemetery

Archeologists found 54 graves from North Greenwood Cemetery under Curtis Fundamental Middle School, which was built on top of the destroyed cemetery.

CLEARWATER, Fla — Editor's note: The above video is 10 Tampa Bay's special Erased, which covers a three-year journey to find, uncover and restore desecrated and erased Black cemeteries.

A new historical marker chronicling the history of the destroyed North Greenwood Cemetery was unveiled Saturday morning at the vacant Curtis Fundamental Middle School in Clearwater, where archaeologists found 54 graves.

More could be underneath the building. 

“It’s a step toward uncovering our history that I think either tried to be erased or hidden,” Patriva Mack, who believes her great-grandmother is still resting at the destroyed Black cemetery, said.

The new marker is located near the school parking lot at Holt Avenue and Engman Street where archaeologists with Stantec (formerly Cardno) used ground-penetrating radar and heavy excavation equipment to confirm graves are still on the site.    

The City of Clearwater initially established the cemetery in 1940 and records suggest more than 300 people were once buried there. 

However, after a series of land transactions and swaps between the City of Clearwater and the Pinellas County Board of Instruction, some graves became unaccounted for. 

The City of Clearwater was supposed to move the graves in 1954, but a full relocation did not happen. 

In 1962, a school was built in the footprint of the cemetery. 

The Clearwater Historical Society and the Clearwater NAACP worked with community members who remembered the cemetery in an effort to learn if graves still existed on the site. 

In 2019, Pinellas County Schools began looking into records and later worked with the City of Clearwater to hire archaeologists to survey the site. 

“To know that we’re finally getting…answers, it’s a step in the right direction,” Mack said. 

Credit: 10 Tampa Bay

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