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Some residents are concerned that construction going on in a part of Downtown El Paso contains historical artifacts.

The location of the construction is on El Paso Street and San Antonio Street. The site where this construction is taking place has a significant historical value to the city, as it’s is the spot where El Paso’s infamous gunslinger John Wesley Hardin had his law offices, after he was released from prison.

Now there are claims that historical items have in fact been found during the construction.

Peter Stone, who manages the WigWam Museum located right next to the construction site, told ABC-7 that construction workers “Found a strong box, but I didn’t get to see too much of that, a strong box or it was either a coffin or a money vault,” Stone said.

Stone told ABC 7 that he has verified some of the small items that were brought to him as being from the 1800’s. He said he believes that there are more artifacts to be found.

If in fact, there are historical artifacts at this site where construction is underway, then there are certain rules that need to be followed.

Dr. David Carmichael, an archeologist and a professor at The University of Texas El Paso, told ABC 7 that if the property is funded in any way by the federal government, a process must be followed saying “What they’re supposed to do is contact the Texas Historical Commission.”

If it not a government funded property, rather, privately owned, things change. “If it’s all on private land and there’s no public funding, they might not have to do anything,” Carmichael said.

A spokesperson for the City of El Paso confirmed it was privately-owned property and “because it is on private property, and no federal permits are required, it is the property owner’s responsibility.”

ABC-7 spoke with Richard Bransford, who is the Director of Construction and Owner of the property, and he said they’ve already done what is necessary to make sure history is preserved.

“We’ve presented the plans to the Historical Society and they went ahead and approved the plans for this project,” Bransford said.

Bransford also told ABC 7 that the items that have been found are very small and insignificant. He further denies the existence of a vault, or a coffin being found on the property.

Jordan Foster Construction is building a 500 car parking garage on that site, which will be open to the public and serve the Plaza Hotel, which they are renovating into a 131 room luxury hotel.

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KVIA 2018

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