East Ninth Street reconstruction unearths hundreds of thousands of historic bricks

photo by: Contributed photo

Construction crews have unearthed hundreds of thousands of historic bricks during the reconstruction of East Ninth Street during the summer and fall of 2018.

As construction crews work to reconstruct several blocks of East Ninth Street, relics of the city’s past are being unearthed.

The city began reconstruction of the road, sidewalks and storm sewer lines on East Ninth Street in July, and so far crews have uncovered approximately 400,000 historic bricks that used to make up the roadway, Project Engineer Jonathan Marburger said in an email to the Journal-World. Marburger said a layer of asphalt had covered the bricks.

“The existing Ninth Street section was brick with seven to 11 inches of asphalt paving over the top,” Marburger said. “With many of the streets being constructed in the early 20th century, these bricks are likely about 100 years old.”

photo by: Contributed photo

Thousands of historic bricks have been unearthed by road construction that began in late August 2018 near Ninth and Rhode Island streets, just east of downtown Lawrence.

The historic bricks collected so far are just from work being done on the intersection of Ninth and Connecticut streets, according to Marburger. He said in some cases the bricks were being reincorporated into the project, such as replacing brick sidewalks and the New York Street intersection, but that most were being transported offsite to be stored for future restoration projects.

At one point in the 1860s, Lawrence had as many as three brick factories, according to historical records. The Journal-World previously reported that the city has 24 miles of brick streets, though the vast majority are paved over with asphalt.

Marburger said the bricks being unearthed as part of the East Ninth Street reconstruction vary in size, and many are stamped with the words “Lawrence Kansas” while others have a diamond pattern or are plain.

The city has undertaken several projects to restore brick streets to some blocks, with the most recent being New York Street between Ninth Street and 12th Street and the 800 block of Pennsylvania Street, according to Marburger. He said the bricks salvaged from East Ninth Street would be used to repair existing brick streets as needed, and, depending on how many are ultimately recovered, could go toward future brick street restoration projects.

Marburger said no brick street restoration projects are currently scheduled, noting that those projects typically require some type of grant funding because of the added labor and time needed to rebuild a brick street as compared with a modern asphalt or concrete street. Generally, though, he said the practice is to keep the north-south exposed brick streets with houses fronting them as exposed brick, while replacing the east-west streets with modern materials.

Marburger said the city is storing the salvaged bricks and has marked them to indicate that they came from East Ninth Street. He said the estimated 400,000 bricks amount to a stockpile of more than 600 cubic yards and that the pile will be measured again to estimate how many bricks have been collected toward the end of the project.

The five-block reconstruction of East Ninth Street began the last week in July and will be completed in four phases. The Journal-World recently reported that when the construction crews finish with the New Hampshire-to-Connecticut portion of the Ninth Street project later this fall, they will begin work from Connecticut to Pennsylvania, which is expected to last until the end of the year.


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