A 15-year effort to build a school in Chicago’s Dunning neighborhood is underway with an unusual complication: Construction workers are taking careful steps to avoid disturbing human remains that may lie beneath the soil.
The $70-million school is to be built on the grounds of a former Cook County Poor House, where an estimated 38,000 people were buried in unmarked graves. Among the dead are residents who were too poor to afford funeral costs, unclaimed bodies and patients from the county’s insane asylum.
“There can be and there have been bodies found all over the place,” said Barry Fleig, a genealogist and cemetery researcher who began investigating the site in 1989. “It’s a spooky, scary place.”