Judge Halts Removal of Freedmen’s Town Street Bricks; Rice’s Ball Pit Dorm Room


Photo of window reflections, Main St.: jsulak via Swamplot Flickr Pool


19 Comment

  • A friend of mine noted that it didn’t really matter if the bricks from Freedman’s town were removed because the neighborhood is no longer recognizable. He has a point. The bricks will probably not be appreciated by the new inhabitants of the neighborhood. Saying that, maybe the bricks could be salvaged, and if there are enough bricks to build something, even if it’s something small, then the bricks can maybe serve as a monument that the new inhabitants will be forced to acknowledge. Just a thought.

  • Re: Ball Dorm room – Really? this is a news story? Good on this guy for spending a bunch of money making his little dorm like a romper room. Beyond the Rice Thresher.. who cares?

  • Why is the brick street question even a question? Hundred-year-old bricks laid in patterns by the original residents–why would that not be preserved? it’s not like we have that all over the city. And if the only answer is to remove the bricks, replace the broken ones, and carefully restore them, which seems like a reasonable idea, then why can’t the patterns be recorded and reproduced?

  • I’m all about preservation, but I don’t understand the outrage against moving the bricks. The neighborhood needs water/sewage repairs – this almost seems like a non-negotiable if you want people to live there. From what I can gather in the article, the bricks are being removed and placed into storage.
    That being said… Couldn’t the bricks be reused elsewhere in the neighborhood? Like maybe in a courtyard or whatever? The headlines make it sound like someone is blowing up the bricks and ruining history forever. Ridiculous.

  • The brick story is getting more ridiculous by the day. I think it’s an anti-gentrification move by the faux activists thinly veiled by a vague historic preservation story. The new sewer will mainly benefit new construction homes in the area and many more to come, it will not benefit the rotting rundown shacks with a bucket for a bathroom. I’d go as far as calling this another battle in the class warfare war that’s only heating up.

  • thank your creator of choice that customs is investigating the importation of a ball pit amount of ball pit balls into the United States.
    I wonder what nefarious purpose they expected that these balls would be used for?

  • Somebody please clear up the brick story. Is the city keeping the bricks regardless to replace and it’s just a matter of nearby residents wanting the city to waste taxpayers money for special equipment in the hypothetical scenario that they get damaged during the process? Or is the city not going to replace the bricks?
    this sounds like the wrong battle to be fought with taxpayers already having been screwed over.

  • There’s nothing left in Freedmen’s Town to preserve. I.P. Freely is correct. Nothing of that neighborhood is left, even the churches have been burned down. Nothing but townhouse farms there now. If Houston were serious about preservation, actions would have had to be taken 20 years ago.

  • That’s great that the Central Bank building is getting renovated. The only problem with that part of Midtown is the DAMN Greyhound station! When will that thing be moved to north of downtown near the Amtrack station? Something between Dart St. and the railroad?

  • @joel, the city promised to preserve the bricks and replace them after the utilities upgrades are done, the protesters are whining that they won’t be replaced in the same exact pattern and not “By the hand of the original slaves”.
    Unless City of Houston owns a time machine or is willing to bring in some genuine slaves, I don’t see how the protesters demands are feasible.

  • Mr. Sense, it is not an anti-gentrification move. Developers won that battle years ago, and as I stated earlier, the neighborhood of Freedman’s town is beyond recognition of the slum you like to point out as well as the neighborhood it was before it was a slum; and I make no pretense in saying that it was once a beautiful neighborhood. That isn’t the point. The point is that Freedman’s Town is a very important piece of Black American history in Houston, and preservation of that history and culture is worth saving.

    As noted earlier, perhaps the bricks would be better relocated and highlighted for what they are. Being that I’m not a Black American, I can’t really say what they should be put to use for. It isn’t my battle and I can’t speak for the Houston African American community.

    Now, if you don’t think the importance of freed slaves in American building their first settlement is notable or worth preservation, I can’t really argue with you–nobody can. “That’s like your opinion, man.”

  • Just take the bricks out and re-use them somewhere at a history museum where they will actually be appreciated.

    No other part of town I know of has the original street bricks in place. This is getting ridiculous.

  • There are archaological sites in cities around the world that are preserved/conserved–there must be some way to keep the physical and historical context of the brick roads intact and still be able upgrade utilities. The city of Houston and/or state of Texas probably just doesn’t want to do it.

  • When Almeda was improved a few years back, the intersections were dressed up with bricks in neat patterns. Occasionally, a pot hole forms and the city has to go back and repack the substrate, then re-lay the bricks. Despite that, It’s has held up well over time and is a nice street. However, these bricks are modern and made in a factory with the expectation of getting hammered by thousands of cars every day. I can’t imagine that 100+ year old bricks can withstand that kind of traffic. Eventually they will crumble and turn into red gravelly sand. Wouldn’t it be better for their preservation to take them out from under the Hummers and Metro busses and put them in a more protective environment?

  • “Unless City of Houston owns a time machine or is willing to bring in some genuine slaves, I don’t see how the protesters demands are feasible.”
    Please let that be comment of the day — at least sentence of the day.

  • Houstonian: I had he same thought, the pavers could be removed and installed as part of the heritage exhibits in Sam Houston Park. Then, in a nod to history in Freedman’s Town, they could stamp and stain the concrete roadways to look like brick.

  • @I.P. Freely…Mr. Sense is trolling. Your points are well-argued. On the other hand, his points, while possibly common, are rarely sensible or well thought out.

  • I bet they’ll like it after the sewer lines/roads get fixed and bricks laid back neatly. And cant they just number the bricks so it will be laid back in the same order?

  • The whole “bricks were laid by freed slaves” story is a lie that has been perpetuated for at least 20 years. It wasn’t true when the bricks were laid in 1913, and it isn’t true now, but somehow people have bough into this BS story that freed slaves raised enough money top pay ONE DOLLAR PER BRICK and laid them with their own bare hands. Even if the story were true, every single one of those alleged freed slaves would have been at least 50-60 years old at the time. For arguments sake, lets calculate the cost of only two streets, 17 feet wide and 100 yards long. That would be about 45,000 bricks. In today’s dollars, that $45,000 is roughly $1.1 MILLION.