Athens downtown bricks

Members of the Athens High School Football team volunteer with Athens Main Street to load and relocate the bricks that will soon be on display in Merchant's Alley. The bricks were first laid on the streets of Athens in 1919.

Bricks made a century ago will soon be on display in Merchant's Alley.

The bricks were originally part of every day travel on the streets of downtown Athens.

With each cut that water and road crews made into the now asphalt streets surrounding the Limestone County Courthouse back in 2019, they uncovered the red bricks. The discovery was part of the work underway during the streetscape project, according to Tere Richardson, executive director of Athens Main Street.

The bricks were first laid on the streets around what was then the brand-new seat of government in the county. According to research with the Limestone County Archives, in August 1919, the City of Athens contracted with Merrill Road Improvement Co. to pave the Courthouse Square along with one block of roadway in each direction. Records also show the bricks were covered in asphalt just after World War II.

Richardson said to this day, the bricks remain just under the surface, as part of Athens' hidden history.

Today, the bricks recovered and saved by the City of Athens during the 2019 streetscape project will have a place in the renovated Merchant's Alley in downtown Athens.

Richardson said an 8-by-15-foot entry threshold will be constructed with more than 400 of the saved bricks.

She said she knew that many in the community would love to see the bricked streets returned to their former glory.

“While the cost would be prohibitive to return the streets to their original brick surfaces, we can display this piece of Athens history so that future generations will know what is hidden beneath our feet,” Richardson said.

Visit www.athensmainstreet.org or email Richardson at tererichardson@athensmainstreet.org to learn more about Merchant's Alley.

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