No Human Remains Found at Coleman Site in Danville

Danville, VA - It's been a year since officials in Danville began searching the Coleman Property on Gypsum Road for any clues about its suspected past as a burial site.

The Danville Industrial Development Authority purchased the land last year. Now, after digging turned up no human remains, the IDA is ready to move forward.

The property has been home to some of Danville's most influential families through the years.

The IDA wants to work toward a future of industrial development at the site, but Danville history buffs say that should not come before paying respect to the past.

Danville Economic Development Director Jeremy Stratton says officials did an extensive search when looking for industrial properties to develop in the city.

"We were running out of industrial land within the city of Danville. The Coleman site made sense, " said Stratton.

When it was discovered that the site was once home to a family that was influential in Danville's development as a city, Stratton says they took extra precautions to study the ruins and what seemed to be a cemetery for the family or their slaves.

"We did further investigation which is normal. We hired a certified archeologist and they didn't find any bones on the site or trinkets, " Stratton said.

The IDA has decided to place a historical marker at the site before moving forward with plans to market the property to developers, but for some in the community, it is not enough.

"When the site no longer exists and you're reading a historical marker and all you see beside it is an asphalt parking lot, that takes so much away, " said Sonja Ingram with Preservation Virginia.

Preservationists and Historical Society members have expressed concern over compromising the site's rich history and what it means to Danville.

Those groups feel that the IDA could have done more.

"Preservation and development can work together. That's what we wanted to see happen at this site. The IDA may own that property, but the larger community owns the history, " said Ingram.

Ingram says she had hoped the IDA would set aside land at the site for historical purposes, but an agreement could not be reached.

After talking with folks in the community, Stratton says many favored the potential jobs that would come from the industrial site over the preservation of the area.