Victory in fight to save historic bricks in Freedmen's Town

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HOUSTON – For now, the bricks will stay in historic Freedman's Town near downtown Houston.

Judge Alexandra Smoots-Hogan will keep in place a temporary restraining order that prevents the city from continuing its utility improvements that included removing historic bricks that cover the streets.

The attorney for the Freedman's Town Historic Coalition told the judge that the city should not have started the work in the first place. He said the street is a landmark that should not be disturbed.

Attorney Ben Hall said, "Once you have removed the bricks, you have destroyed the art. It's like taking a stroke away from Mona Lisa. The painting. And then say that that did not damage it."

But inside the courtroom, an attorney for the city said it's important to install new water, sewer and utility lines. The city's lawyer said an archaeologist would supervise the removal.

Those fighting the city's project rejoiced after the court decision. Dorris Ellis, the president of Freedman's Town Preservation Coalition said, "Today is validation that this judge saw what we saw as the city not following the law."

On Friday, the Coalitions attorney said he plans to prove, in court, that the city made a legal mistake that will cost taxpayers $5 million. Hall wants to stop the project until he can take the city to trial. Hall said, "If the city wants citizens to follow the law, then the city should follow the law. And the law requires much more than what they're offering in terms of an archaeologist being present."

Attorneys for the city of Houston declined comment after the hearing.