Remains found during Water Street construction may date back to 1830s

Image 1 of 4

Above ground on Water Street, developers are paving the way for downtown's new residents.  But below ground, they're finding remnants of residents past. 

Thursday afternoon, Tampa City Council members were updated on the remains discovered during construction of Water Street Tampa, Jeff Vinik's $3-billion project.

"They definitely found a lot of remains, and pieces of remains, this and that," said Councilman John Dingfelder.

Back in June, councilors voted unanimously to have Vinik-hired archaeologists give an accounting of what they discovered. 

"The stakeholder communities have been identified and they will participate in the re-internment of the remains that have been found," said assistant city attorney Kristen Mora.

Officials wouldn't disclose how many remains were found in the investigation, but indicated from when.

"We do understand that the remains appear to be from the Ft. Brooke era," Mora said.

The era was a time when an Army post was established in the 1820s to protect settlers from the Seminole tribe. 

"We're talking about people, people who passed away here in Tampa sometime in the 1830s and 1840s. And they had families," said Rodney Kite-Powell with the Tampa Bay History Center.

Some have speculated the remains may be African-Americans from Tampa's Garrison period, the late part of that century. But the report says these remains pre-date that. 

"That is our indication is that they are older remains from that time period," Moore said.

Work has not re-started at the site, but the report recommended construction activities may proceed. 

LINK: Read SPP's archaeological and historical assessment (PDF)