By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Queen Lane Apartment building in Germantown came tumbling down Saturday morning. And while the building will be replaced with 55 new affordable housing rentals by next fall, there are centuries old pieces of history that will remain.
The bones of thousands of men and women were buried beneath the a plot of land adjacent to where the Queen Lane Apartments stood. Established by the Quakers in the mid-eighteenth century, it deed reads that it was dedicated as a burying ground for African Americans, mulattoes and strangers who died in Germantown and was used until the early 1900s.
“People said they found bones,” says Barry LeLand, a longtime Germantown resident. He says he used to play on the Potter’s field in the 40s and 50s before Queen Lane Apartments were built.
“Stones that we used for bases were old grave stones,” he says.
When he heard that the Philadelphia Housing Authority wanted to tear down Queen Lane apartments and build new housing, he wanted the city to save it.
“Our history is important,” says LeLand, “I was angry and wanted it preserved.”
“We demanded that they would not build back on Potter’s field,” says Lisa Hopkins, leader of Northwest Neighbors of Germantown and led the preservation effort several years ago. After numerous community meetings, the Philadelphia Housing Authority agreed to leave greenspace where the bones once sat.
“We’re working towards establishing a memorial, a historical marker and having the potter’s field registered in the city and national register of historical places and burial sites,” says Hopkins.
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