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Archaeological dig lays Gowanus mass grave theory to rest

The dig turned back a 19th-century cistern and stone wall


An empty lot in Gowanus that the city is eyeing for a public prekindergarten is not, in fact, the site of a mass grave for slaves of an 18th-century Brooklyn family or for Revolutionary War heroes the Maryland 400.

An archaeological dig by AKRF Inc., who was tapped by the state’s Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, turned back no evidence that the Brooklyn site near the intersection of Third Avenue and Ninth Street was ever used as a burial ground. The dig did surface a 19th-century cistern, well, and an old brick wall, Brooklyn Paper reports.

The dig was prompted by the callings of elected officials like Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and State Senator Jesse Hamilton, as well as actor and Park Slope resident Sir Patrick Stewart, who sought to publicly exhaust the possibility that the site had any historical significance before the city moved forward with construction on a 180-seat prekindergarten.

That theory of 201 Ninth Street as mass grave has now been laid to rest, with Philip Perazio, an archeologist with the state, writing to the Department of Education that “the planned project will have no impact on cultural resources.”