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Removal of historic bricks in Freedmen's Town anger preservationists

HOUSTON – Members of the Freedmen's Town preservation group got a call around 7:30 a.m. Monday that workers were tearing up the brick covered street at Andrews and Genesse near Midtown.

The group said some of the bricks had been hauled away, others were damaged and some were left behind, intact.

"My heart dropped," said Dorris Ellis- Roberts, the president of the Freedmen's Town Preservation Coalition. "I mean, I didn't want to cry. My heart is aching, for us not to understand the importance of the legacy."

This follows a long fight over the streets that were paved and paid for by freed slaves.

The City of Houston wanted to chart and move the bricks while utilities were improved in the area and then replace the bricks after the work was complete.

However, the preservation group said no and fought the city in court. Opponents wanted the improvements to happen without moving the bricks. 

Before the discovery Monday, the group said both sides were to talk and figure out what would happen next. 

"It's disrespect," said Charonda Johnson, another member of the coalition. "It's crazy. It's like they tried to cover it up. If you made a mistake, you made a mistake."  

A spokesperson in Mayor Sylvester Turner’s office said Monday that the bricks were not being removed and were instead being replaced. 

A construction worker, who did not identify himself to KPRC 2, said the bricks would be replaced.

 

Workers look at where bricks were removed in #freedmens town. The latest on @KPRC2 at 4 and 5

Posted by KPRC2 Ryan Korsgard on Monday, November 21, 2016