Where are the Freedmen's Town bricks? Residents, activists demand answers

By Ryan Korsgard - Reporter

HOUSTON - When lifelong Fourth Ward resident Gladys House-El heard the heavy equipment tearing up Andrews Street more than a year ago, she ran out in her housecoat and demanded contractors stop.

"Y'all aren't supposed to be doing this. You tore up some of the bricks earlier," House-El yelled.

She was furious that workers tore up the historic bricks in Freedmen’s Town.

PHOTOS: Look at Freedmen's Town bricks progress

House-El said freed slaves bought the bricks and paved the streets more than 100 years ago.  

"To disrupt the sacred heritage of our brick streets is just overwhelming," she said. "It's too much. It's not just brick streets. It's a whole great deal of heritage and culture that we're talking about."

Two weeks later, in December 2016, the Mayor Sylvester Turner and city leaders gathered and promised to put back the bricks and fix the street.  

“When a mistake was made, you can’t undo it," Turner said Dec. 1, 2016. "But we are going to strive to do our very best to put them back the way they were.”

On Tuesday, a giant concrete barricade blocked the road; while concrete work appeared complete, some bricks were still missing.

House-El estimated at least 7,000 bricks still need to be put back into place. A hole full of water sat at Andrews Street and Genesee. 

On Wednesday, House-El will again ask city leaders to finish the work.

WATCH: Activist demands action after promise to replace bricks in Freedmen's Town lulls

Turner's office released the following statement:

“The project was originally scheduled to be completed by the end of December, but Harvey and other weather-related issues pushed the completion date back. We have a couple of community committees that are working diligently on this project. They generally meet once a month, with the next meeting scheduled for the second week in February.”  

Turner’s office said the project is scheduled to be substantially complete within the next month.

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