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Houston to Move Forward with Removal of Freedmen’s Town Bricks

The decision has caused concern and push-back from the community.


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Freedmen’s Town, on the western edge of Downtown is on the National Register of Historic Places as a Traditional Cultural Place, meaning its significance is rooted in its community history. Historical Preservationist Catherine Roberts says the City of Houston’s plan to pick up the bricks in Freedmen’s Town, put new water and sewer lines under the streets and then replace the bricks is not acceptable for preservation standards.

“I think that the city has been at fault causing the damage to the streets, allowing and granting permits to developers to break into the brick streets. They’re supposed to be responsible to care for and maintain a National Registered District and that hasn’t been done,” Roberts said.

The issue was discussed on Houston Matters.
Houston officials say the question of how to preserve the bricks has been debated and delayed since the 1970s and in the meantime the streets and infrastructure, and the bricks themselves, are deteriorating.

Keith Wade is chair of the city’s Fouth Ward Freedmen’s Town Task Force. He says the city will do its best to salvage bricks and replace them after the repairs.

“The project now calls for an archaeologist to be on site at the beginning of the process so that we can protect as much of the integrity of the bricks, and look at any artifacts that may be discovered,” Wade said.

The city will move forward with its plan next month. Meanwhile, community activists are still trying to gain traction on a plan to complete the infrastructure repairs by tunneling under the bricks.


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Laurie Johnson-Ramirez

Laurie Johnson-Ramirez

News Director

Laurie Johnson-Ramirez leads news coverage for Houston Public Media across broadcast and digital platforms. Ramirez is a native Houstonian who started her career at Houston Public Media in 2002. Before becoming News Director, Ramirez held the position of Executive Producer for Daily News, leading daily and breaking news coverage, helping...

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