City of Pensacola conducts preliminary GPR survey as part of Miraflores Burial Ground Study

Published: May. 22, 2023 at 3:40 PM CDT
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PENSACOLA, Fla. (WALA) -In June of 2021, two kids found human remains while cleaning out a crawl space underneath the boy scout building at Miraflores Park. Research shows the remains were over 75 years old and were identified as a man and a woman. More research helped shed some light on what the park used to be.

“We’ve been able to determine there was a potential burial ground here that very well might be African American or some sort of biracial descent whether that’s Creole or white and African American,” said Cultural Resources Coordinator Adrianne Walker.

A map of Pensacola from 1884 shows a fenced-in graveyard at the park which was known as Havana Square until 1965. According to newspaper articles and meeting minutes from the early 1900′s there were several requests back then to find out who was buried in the graveyard.

“Asking for the city surveyor or the city marshal or later the street superintendent to come out and figure out who’s buried here and insist the mayor have them removed,” said Walker. “We haven’t found evidence yet if that occurred.”

Because of that. it’s unclear if there are any other graves still at the park. Recently the city started the Miraflores Burial Ground Study to figure out what kind of burial ground was here and eventually commemorate its history.

“It can very well be that this is a marginalized community and we’re seeing this all across the state of Florida and in the Southeast United States where African American burial grounds are forgotten and lost to time,” said Walker.

To help, the city along with Pensacola Energy did a preliminary ground penetrating radar survey which works by using an antenna to transmit radar energy into the ground and reflect waves off any buried objects whether they be utilities or something else.

“That’s the question is were these bodies removed to somewhere else or not. Today is going to help us to continue to plan to figure that out,” said Walker.

The city plans to use the results from this preliminary survey to help them plan for a possible full-scale GPR survey as part of the next phase of the study.