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Pleasant Litchford Memorial Garden

This site honors the life of Pleasant Litchford, a formerly enslaved man who settled on these grounds in the 1800s. The one-half acre park follows the footprint of what was the Litchford family cemetery. Learn about the Litchfords and their enduring story.


The Upper Arlington Schools and the City of Upper Arlington partnered in 2021-2022 to build a park-like memorial on the site of the UA High School, in recognition of the Pleasant Litchford family cemetery that had once been located on that site.

Pleasant Litchford was a master blacksmith who had been enslaved in Virginia in the 1800s, bought his own freedom and went on to settle in the area that is now Upper Arlington. He built a successful business and purchased land that today is home to the High School, Northam Park and Tremont Elementary. Among his many contributions to the area were establishing a school for African-American children and being a founding member of the Second Baptist Church, which provided an important voice in the anti-slavery movement.

The Pleasant Litchford Memorial Garden is located on the south end of the new UA High School, where the cemetery had been located. Interpretive signage will be installed at the site in 2024, establishing the space as a place that encourages learning and reflection for students and community members.

Please check back in 2024 to view the signs and for additional insight on the Pleasant Litchford legacy.


For more primary source documents relating to Pleasant Litchford, please see the UA Archives’ Pleasant Litchford collection.

The newspaper obituary for Pleasant Litchford details his life accomplishments, age at death (89), his land holdings (227 acres), and his wives, children and grandchildren.

Catherine Depp owned 32.5 acres of land after her father, Pleasant Litchford, passed away. How did this property come to be owned by UA Schools?

Upper Arlington Board of Education meeting minute entries from the mid-1950s detail the purchase of land for a new high school building, the discovery of a cemetery on the site, and the subsequent actions taken by the Board. This summary document covers the period of June 1954 – February 1956.

Columbus Neighborhoods: The Story of Pleasant Litchford
In 2018, Columbus Neighborhoods presented a short film about the life of Pleasant Litchford and the impact of his legacy on the Upper Arlington community.

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