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Judge Orders Crews To Halt Removal Of Freedmen’s Town Bricks

After months of debate, the City of Houston has temporarily stopped a restoration project in the historic Freedmen’s Town neighborhood in the Fourth Ward.

section of bricks removed
Crews halted construction after removing a section of bricks on Wilson Street.

 

A small stretch of Wilson Street lays bare where crews began removing bricks from the road. They were forced to stop after a judge issued a temporary restraining order against them.

These bricks have been the source of much dispute in Freedmen’s Town. They were laid more than 100 years ago by freed slaves who moved to the Fourth Ward. In June, City Council voted to proceed with water and sewage system repairs in the neighborhood, but some say the construction would damage the historic bricks. Dorris Ellis is with the Freedmen’s Town Preservation Coalition.

“We want the technology to be used that could save the bricks and also provide the infrastructure that’s required by the residents of the city,” Ellis says.

The coalition has proposed alternative methods that would preserve the bricks. City officials have said those techniques are too expensive, but Ellis says the bricks’ historical significance makes them worth preserving.

“These bricks are a gift,” she says. “We are working to have them to be presented to another generation or two, and we cannot present the gift if we cannot preserve the gift.”

Ellis says the group will continue to lobby city officials when the restraining order expires in 14 days. Meanwhile, the bricks that have been removed have been wrapped in plastic and set aside to be put in storage. 

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