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.
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.
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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.”
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.