TAMPA, Fla. — Archaeologists hired by the city of Tampa have discovered 144 coffins at the forgotten Zion Cemetery.
- Area along Florida Avenue being checked for additional gravesites
- Search is part of wider search for more Zion Cemetery graves
- RELATED STORY: Forgotten Cemetery Under King High School?
On Monday, crews started a new expanded search in the area, looking on the business corridor on north Florida Avenue.
The cemetery is under the the Robles Park Apartment Complex near East Stratford Avenue and I-275.
Sunstate Wreckers, located at 3800 N. Florida Avenue, has opened its property up for the next two days for ground penetrating radar scans. Hillsborough County officials are hoping it can find additional burial sites believed to be part of the old Zion Cemetery. The area being searched Monday is several blocks to the east of the apartment complex.
About 144 graves under Robles Park Village have already been identified. Five apartment buildings there will be torn down and a memorial erected.
"We've been told that this particular area of the cemetery was known as Potter's field," said Tony Huffman, general manager of Sunstate Wreckers.
Homeowners near the Florida Avenue area said the proper amount of respect needs to be shown if more gravesites are found.
"I think you have to have due diligence," said Homeowner Rober Rennie. "Give it the respect it deserves and then you kind of have to marry that with the needs of modern life, modern homes and businesses and things like that, for people that built on these sites, they also have an interest."
Just how many more graves could be found remains a mystery. Although it is believed between 400-800 people were buried in the Zion Cemetery.
If that’s true, only about a quarter of the grave sites have so far been located.
Huffman said within 30 days the company will have a report on the property.
"We're going to see if we can find out if the cemetery continues out into the margin of Florida Avenue," Huffman said.