About the Project

What is the Henry Street Bridge Project?

The Henry Street Bridge Project will be constructed within an area established in 1821 as the “Burying Ground” (later called the “Old Burying Ground”), and within the “Union Cemetery” (also called the “New Burying Ground”). Both burying grounds were later considered part of Greenlawn Cemetery.

Why is this project going through a burial ground?

The City of Indianapolis proposes to construct a new bridge over the White River and to construct an approach to the bridge on Henry Street from Kentucky Avenue. The purpose of the proposed project is to provide connectivity between facilities on each side of the White River and to reduce existing congestion on adjacent roadways.

Was a Section 106 study conducted for this project?

Yes, Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (1966) requires Federal agencies to take into account the effects of their undertakings on historic and archaeological resources. Since this project required a federal permit from the US Army Corps of Engineers, it was the subject of a Section 106 study. The Section 106 study was concluded with the execution of a Memorandum of Agreement on November 3, 2022. The Section 106 study followed the process mandated by law.

Who owns the land for the proposed Henry Street right of way?

The City of Indianapolis owns the Henry Street right of way.

Is this project related to the sale of Diamond Chain and the proposed private site development

No. While the City will consult property owners in the development of the Henry Street bridge project, the City’s project and the former Diamond Chain property are not connected.

Are you moving the entire burial ground?

The portion of the burial ground within the project’s footprint will be excavated as needed to install the proposed improvements or as directed by the State Historic Preservation Office. If any human remains are encountered within this area as part of this project, they will be treated respectfully and moved. The relocation of these remains will be addressed in the city’s reburial plan, which is currently under development.

Why is the City not relocating the entire burial ground?

Much of the burial ground is beyond the limits of the right of way for this project and is not owned by the City.

What firm will be doing the excavation?

All archaeological investigations will be conducted under the supervision of archaeologists meeting the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards (30 CFR Part 61) for archaeology and Indiana Code (IC) 14-21-1, 312 Indiana Administrative Code (IAC) 21, and 312 IAC 22.

In June 2024, the city entered into a contract with Stantec, an engineering services company, to provide a proactive archaeological approach to the site. Learn more about this.

What state and local agencies/organizations are involved in overseeing the archaeological work?

The project is subject to permitting regulations, per Indiana Code. A Burial Ground Development Plan has been filed with the State. An updated archaeological work plan will be submitted to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources/Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology (IDNR/DHPA) to reflect the city’s revised approach to excavation, including the addition of Stantec. We expect to encounter human remains, burial objects, and grave markers. Our consultant is developing a systematic and methodical approach to excavation. Upon a discovery, the IDNR/DHPA will be notified of the discovery within two (2) business days as required by Indiana Code (IC) 14-21-1-27 and 29.

The archaeological monitoring plan details the process for excavation, analysis, and relocation of the unmarked burials encountered. This plan is required under IC 14-21-1-26 and has been provided to the Indianapolis Department of Public Works and to the IDNR/DHPA.

A reburial plan will be filed with the DHPA prior to any re-interment.

Indiana University Indianapolis is conducting the analysis on the human remains. Human remains will be stored in their secure facility during analysis and until re-interment occurs.

Appropriate forms will be filed with the Marion County Recorder’s office and with the IDNR/DHPA, documenting the original location of identified graves and relocation information.

Who is paying for this?

The City of Indianapolis is paying for the archaeology in the Henry Street right of way, construction of the bridge, and associated roadway approaches. Other roadway improvements, which are part of the larger development, are being paid for by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, or a cost share between the entities.

Are there laws protecting burials and cemeteries in Indiana?

Yes. Several State statutes and administrative rules afford protection of human remains, burials, burial objects, grave markers, and cemeteries in the State of Indiana. Discovery, disturbance, excavation, vandalism, disinterment, re-interment, and nearby development are among many things regulated by statutes and code.

When will excavations occur?

In anticipation of archaeological excavation, research for this project began in 2021 as the cemetery development plan and monitoring plans were prepared. The archaeological monitoring first occurred in 2022, with the geotechnical borings. It is anticipated that archaeological monitoring (per the IDNR permit) will occur in 2024.

How long will the remains be out of the ground? Where will they be stored?

A reburial plan will address the handling of remains and artifacts. However, that plan is still being drafted due to the complexity of the project and the site and the anticipated volume of remains and artifacts. The city will work with the Community Advisory Group, consultants, descendants and the community during that process.

If burials are located, will they be screened from public view?

Yes, burials will be screened from public view and site security will be maintained. Efforts will be made to recover all evident human remains by the end of the archaeological workday, and security will be provided for any human remains still present after hours and over weekends.

Will there be a public report?

Certain parts of the archaeological report will be made available publicly, as allowed by State law; other parts cannot be made public due to the state confidentiality law associated with the protection of archaeological sites.

About the Cemetery

What cemetery is impacted?

Portions of the burial ground called the “Burying Ground” (later called the “Old Burying Ground”) and the “Union Cemetery” (also called the “New Burying Ground”) will be impacted. Learn more about Greenlawn Cemetery.

About Re-interment

What will happen to human remains that are encountered as part of this project?

 Human remains will be carefully excavated by an archaeologist. GPS coordinates will be collected for the burial and for any burial artifacts. Photographs will be taken and the skeletal remains will be documented; photogrammetry will be used in the appropriate situation.

The archaeologist creates a hand-written field specimen log and places human remains sequentially into paper bags, then brings them back to the office where the log is verified and typed. A chain of custody form is created before anything leaves the custody of the archaeologists.

Then the human remains are re-verified and delivered to Indiana University’s (IU) lab. At that time, IU and the delivery staff sign the chain of custody form as each box of human remains are checked into IU’s lab.

What will happen to the non-burial and burial artifacts?

Artifacts are collected and labeled with field specimen numbers. Both burial and non-burial artifacts are taken to the laboratory, where they are cleaned, cataloged, and labeled with the accession number provided by the curation facility. They will be photographed for the report. Non-burial artifacts will be taken to the curation facility, as determined by the City.

Any human remains and associated burial objects and items, if recovered, will be reinterred with the burial.

What will happen to the human remains after analysis?

After inventory and analysis, recovered human remains and all burial objects and associated items will be stored in a safe and secure facility until proper re-interment in an appropriately dedicated cemetery. Attempts will be made during re-interment to follow the original layout of the burials as recorded, if possible. (Research has revealed that burials in the old burying ground did not always occur in the orderly linear fashion to which we are accustomed.) The re-interment area will be appropriately recorded, identified, and marked. We are presently looking for cemeteries that will accept these burials.

Will you identify individuals? Will you use DNA testing?

It may not be possible to identify individuals due to the nature of the burials (i.e., incomplete records, no burial markers, disturbed context). We believe that we will have general identifiers – such as age, gender, and ethnicity. On rare occasions, burial artifacts can provide identifying information.

Non-destructive information, such as metric and non-metric characteristics, dental analysis, paleopathology, osteometrics (pre- and postmortem), observable genetic traits, and any cultural information, will be recorded for each burial in a burial form database.

DNA analysis is destructive; it can be useful only if a potential relative’s DNA is on file in an available database for comparison purposes. Given the time that has elapsed (100-200 years) since burial, this analysis would probably not yield fruitful results in connecting the burials with descendants. It will likely not be employed.

Is the City considering placing a monument or marker near the current location of the burial ground?

The City would like to recognize the burial ground with an appropriate monument and marker. The City will collaborate with local stakeholders to determine that form. There are areas along Henry Street designated for markers or art, but it is really too early to say definitely the form of the recognition.

African American Burial Ground

What is the significance of the African American portion of the burial ground?

According to Sulgrove’s History of Indianapolis, burials of African American residents occurred in the four acres of the Old Burying Ground along with the city’s poorer residents and those of other ethnicities (Holloway, Sulgrove). Public records also refer to a “colored cemetery,” but those accounts do not provide specific location information and an exact location has not been verified.

Where was the African American burial ground located?

Newspaper accounts refer to a “colored cemetery” along the White River. Research has not revealed a precise location, and it has not yet been located on historic maps.

Were all African Americans buried in a segregated cemetery?

Research indicates that prior to the Civil War, African Americans purchased burial lots within the larger area known as Greenlawn. Documentary research also shows that there was an area within Union Cemetery set aside for African American purchase, but research is ongoing to ascertain who actually purchased the lots and who was buried in that area. However, historical records also refer to a “colored cemetery” or a portion of Greenlawn that was referred to as the “colored cemetery,” but its location has not been verified through research.

Will efforts be made to identify the ethnicity of the remains?

We anticipate being able to identify the age, gender, and ethnicity of the remains.

Who will do the analysis?

The laboratory analysis of human remains will occur at an Indiana University Indianapolis laboratory supervised by bioarcheologists and forensic anthropology professionals meeting the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards and the physical anthropology qualifications under 312 IAC 22-3-4.

Will descendants be notified?

Grave markers have previously been removed or relocated from their associated burials. Professionals are conducting research into the ownership of the burial plots; however, it is not known at this time if it will be possible to identify specific individual burials and their present-day family members.

Laboratory analysis and historical research materials can be paired to provide any individual or familial identification after the burials have been removed.

Will the City consult with experts in African American burial history?

The laboratory analysis of human remains will occur at an Indiana University Indianapolis laboratory supervised by bioarcheologists and forensic anthropology professionals meeting the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards and the physical anthropology qualifications under 312 IAC 22-3-4. These anthropologists have previously worked at African American burial sites in other areas of the country and are considered experts in the field. 

In addition, the Community Advisory Group includes experts in African American history and genealogy, local history and law, and 19th-century burials.

Will the relocated African American graves be denoted by a special monument or marker?

If it is determined that African American remains are encountered, the City will collaborate with local stakeholders to determine an appropriate monument and/or historical marker at the location of the re-interment and/or at the location of the burial ground. The project has areas presently set aside for markers or art.

Will the City pursue recognition under the proposed African American Burial Grounds Network Act?

The African American Burial Grounds Preservation Act establishes a program at the National Park Service to provide grant opportunities and technical assistance to local partners to research, identify, survey, and preserve these cemeteries. Therefore, the Act focuses on a study of how to recognize African American Burial Grounds, so it is not yet clear how to pursue recognition.


Board of Park Commissioners *ongoing*

1897 Third Annual Park Report of the City of Indianapolis, Indiana for the Year 1897.

Board of Park Commissioners. Indianapolis.

1898 Fourth Annual Report of the Board of Park Commissioners for the Year Ending

December 31, 1898. Board of Park Commissioners. Indianapolis.

1899 Fifth Annual Report of the Board of Park Commissioners for the Year Ending

December 31, 1899. Board of Park Commissioners. Indianapolis.

1900 Sixth Annual Report of the Board of Park Commissioners for the Year Ending

December 31, 1900, Board of Park Commissioners. Indianapolis.

1901 Seventh Annual Report of the Board of Park Commissioners for the Year Ending

December 31, 1901, Board of Park Commissioners, Indianapolis.

1902 Eighth Annual Report of the Board of Park Commissioners for the Year Ending

December 31, 1902, Board of Park Commissioners, Indianapolis.

1903 Ninth Annual Report of the Board of Park Commissioners for the Year 1903, Board of

Park Commissioners, Indianapolis.

1904 Tenth Annual Report of the Board of Park Commissioners for the Year 1904, Board

of Park Commissioners, Indianapolis

1905 Eleventh Annual Report of the Board of Park Commissioners for the Year 1905,

Board of Park Commissioners, Indianapolis

1910 Map of Present and Proposed Park and Boulevard System of Indianapolis in Annual

Report of the Board of Park Commissioners. Board of Park Commissioners, Indianapolis.

Brown, Edgar A., and William W. Thornton

1904 The General Ordinances of the City of Indianapolis, Revision of 1904. William B.

Buford Printer and Binder, Indianapolis.

DeMore, Patricia

1977 “Confederates in our Midst,” in Indiana Military History Journal Vol 2, No. 1, Indiana

Historical Society, Indianapolis.

Holloway, W.R.

1870 Indianapolis: A Historical and Statistical Sketch of the Railroad City, a Chronicle of Its

Social, Municipal, Commercial and Manufacturing Progress, with Full Statistical

Tables. Indianapolis Journal Print, Indianapolis.

Indianapolis City Council Records. Available at the Indiana State Archives, 1881, 1882, 1883, 1887

Indiana State Board of Accounts

1831 Plats of the Town of Indianapolis. Indiana State Board of Accounts, Indianapolis. https://indianamemory.contendm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p15078coll8/id/3821/

rec/1, accessed August 30, 2021.

1823 Laws of the State of Indiana Passed and Published, at the Seventh Session of the

General Assembly, Carpenter and Douglass, Corydon: Indiana.

Nowland, John H.B.

1877 Sketches of Prominent Citizens of 1876, with a Few of the Pioneers of the City and

County Who Have Passed Away, Tilford and Carlon. Indianapolis: Indiana.

Record of Proceedings of the Common Council Indianapolis. Available at the Indiana State Archives and digitally Vols. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8; 1839-1905

Sulgrove, B.R.

1884 History of Indianapolis and Marion County, Indiana. L.H. Everts & Co, Philadelphia,


Union Cemetery Plat

1834 Plat of Union Cemetery, Marion County Deed Book D, p. 403 and 404, February 7, 1834

Newspaper Articles

Business of the City,” Indianapolis News April 28, 1890


The City of Indianapolis—No. H.,” Locomotive, Indianapolis, Indiana, May 27, 1848, Hoosier

State Chronicles.

City News,” Indianapolis News May 26, 1874,


He Wants to Stop It,” The Indianapolis News, December 29, 1874, https://www.newspapers.com/image/37682262.

Where is Ralston’s Body,” The Indianapolis News, July 29, 1891, https://www.newspapers.com/image/34516527