Weccacoe Playground improvements to move forward despite historic burial ground on site

Weccacoe Playground on the 400 block of Catharine Street boasts more than just playground equipment. Underneath that community space is a burial ground for as many as 5,000 people from the Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the 1800’s.

Photo of the playground from QVNA.

With this burial ground being named to the National Register of Historic Places, what does the future hold for the much-needed renovations to this community space? According to Mayor Jim Kenney, despite this historical designation, some improvements will be moving forward to enhance Weccacoe.

More from CBS Philly:

He says Mayor Jim Kenney and city officials met with all concerned parties Monday and, as a group, the stakeholders agreed the community children deserved a playground. Tyler says the consensus is construction will be allowed on the portion of the playground that does not touch the bones. Historian Terry Buckalew rediscovered the Bethel Burying Ground several years ago and says what remains is what do with the tennis court and building with bathrooms that sits atop the burial ground.

“Everyone is committed to having the playground renovated in a dignified and respectful manner,” he says, “We will just to hammer out the details.”

An old image of the improvements planned for the space.

Construction plans have yet to be filed with the Philadelphia Historical Commission, but the renovations are expected to include new play equipment, renovations to part of the tennis courts, improved seating and garbage cans, repairs to the fencing, storm water management and more. No word yet on when this construction will begin.

5 thoughts on “Weccacoe Playground improvements to move forward despite historic burial ground on site

  • February 3, 2016 at 10:12 am

    Wasn’t this the basis for “poltergeist”? I’m pretty sure it was.

  • February 3, 2016 at 11:17 am

    The park at 9th & Federal was also a cemetery at one time.

    • February 3, 2016 at 12:25 pm

      Capitolo was a cemetery as recently as 1942

  • February 4, 2016 at 10:28 am

    Almost every open space in the City was used for burial at one time or another

    • February 4, 2016 at 2:03 pm

      Yup. NG High school is over one. Nick’s Roast Beef is over one.

      The only difference is that many of those old cemeteries moved the interred bodies before selling the land. The ones that were left to be forgotten, or the ones with historical significance (such as Mother Bethel’s) require the attention before deciding to repave over top of them

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