Plans for a new parking garage at the University of Mississippi are now on hold after a gruesome discovery on campus grounds.

Jerry Mitchell of the Clarion Ledger reports.

Discovery of graves affects UMMC parking plan

Future progress for the state’s longtime medical school has collided with the ghosts of Mississippi’s past — the discovery of a 1,000 bodies buried on its campus and the likelihood of more.

Officials of the fast-growing University of Mississippi Medical Center had planned to build a parking garage east of the dental school, where a grove of trees now sits.

But testing in the area revealed 1,000 bodies, believed to have been patients at the Mississippi State Lunatic Asylum a century ago.

“None have names,” said Dr. James Keeton, dean of the medical school.

Paying for reburials elsewhere would cost about $3,000 apiece, or $3 million total, he said. “We can’t afford that.”

New plans include building the parking garage next to the dental school, he said.

Others plans may have to change, too. Medical center officials had hoped to use the property west of the dental school for future expansion, but Keeton said they might have to rethink that approach, because other bodies may lie beneath the earth — former slaves, TB victims and possibly even Civil War dead.

The UMMC ground on which Keeton and Gov. Phil Bryant recently stood to announce construction of the $11 million American Cancer Society Hope Lodge is believed to contain yet more bodies.