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How a Cemetery Ends Up Underground

In America’s colonial era, thousands of people were buried in a cemetery that is now the Green in New Haven, Connecticut. The Center Church on the Green, as it is called now, was built in 1814 right over top of a section of the cemetery! They set up pillars in the cemetery, and built the church on top, then put fill dirt around the church to make it ground level. That left a “basement’ of sorts for the remaining graves, complete with their original headstones. And it is there still. But that was only part of the large cemetery on the Green. What of the bodies outside of the church?

Yet in true Poltergeist-fashion, when in the 1820s the graveyard was relocated to the new Grove Street Cemetery, only the headstones were moved. By some estimates there are between 5,000 to 10,000 souls still buried below the Green, although one was disturbed during 2012's Hurricane Sandy when a tree was dislodged from the ground, and a skeleton was found coiled in the roots. Specifically, a skull was spotted just before Halloween with its jaw swung open as if in a silent howl, while a spine and rib cage remained attached.

You won’t see that, but you will see plenty of pictures of the Center Church on the Green and its underground cemetery-turned-crypt that is open to visitors, at Atlas Obscura.

(Image credit: Allison Meier)


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