“Located on the 400 block of Catharine Street [Queen Village neighborhood], Weccacoe Playground is a central spot for recreation, fun, and greenery. Weccacoe Playground is one of the few playgrounds in Philadelphia with a full-size, professional tennis court. Anyone is welcome to play, and each summer there is a youth tennis league. The playground also houses the recreation center, which serves as QVNA’s [Queen Village Neighbors Association] office and a neighborhood meeting place for community activities, children’s events, and other meetings. The Friends of Weccacoe Playground is QVNA committee of volunteers who help make the playground a clean, green, and safe place for kids and adults.” - http://www.qvna.org/qvna/venue/weccacoe-playground/
|Grave excavations in front of Weccacoe Rec Center, 2013 (Ref.)|
“Just don't tell the kids: Renovations for Weccacoe Playground on the 400 block of Catharine Street will forge ahead, despite the site recently being named to the National Register of Historic Places. Why the nod? It was a 19-century African-American burial ground, and about 5,000 people lie buried beneath it.” - (from the article, Weccacoe Playground Renovations to Continue on Top of Historic Burial Ground.)
|May 2016 photo showing tennis courts at left.|
“Under this playground is a burial ground of as many as 5,000 people from the Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the 1800′s. The location has since been added to the National Register of Historic Places." - See more at: http://www.passyunkpost.com/2016/03/29/weccacoe-playground-began-this-week/#sthash.LMk2vu8e.dpuf
The city was called on its attempt to dig up the grounds for a playground renovation project in 2013 (see my prior blog, The Bones Beneath Us). Heated debates arose between various parties, including Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church, which originally owned the cemetery. According to the 2013 Philly.com article, Historic African American cemetery in Queen Village larger than thought: “The cemetery, which had languished in obscurity for a century, was put on the city register of historic places in June , and the archaeology study was ordered in advance of renovations to the now-protected site. (All construction related to a protected historic property must be approved by the city historical commission.)"
|Banner currently on the fence of the tennis court on Queen Street|
Bethel Burying Ground, a National Historic Site, faces neglect, damage
|April 2016 photo of Weccacoe - note green-roofed Rec center in rear, beyond barricade|
From the Feb. 1, 2016 CBSPhilly article, Burial Ground Beneath Queen Village Playground Named To National Register Of Historic Places:
Not at all sure what that will be. You would think after all the renovations, the city would at least erect an historical marker. I noted that the playground map currently on the fence of the Weccacoe Playground makes no mention of the Mother Bethel Burial Ground, which lies beneath it. All-in-all, this is another example of the living trying to find ways to live with their dead.
References and Further Reading:
Burial Ground Beneath Queen Village Playground Named To National Register Of Historic Places
The Bones Beneath Us
Weccacoe Playground Renovations to Continue on Top of Historic Burial Ground