SOUTH HAVEN — City residents here are getting an unexpected windfall from the Center Street reconstruction project – bricks.
And they’re not the typical bricks contractors use these days. They’re the original bricks that lined South Haven’s downtown streets more than 100 years ago.
“It appears the bricks were placed in approximately 1903,” said City Manager Brian Dissette.
That’s the year workers finished laying bricks on Center and Phoenix streets.
“They’re larger than current standards,” Dissette noted. “They are also quite dense and heavy.”
When workers from Kalin Construction began removing the asphalt surface from Center Street two weeks ago, they uncovered the bricks, a number of which were still intact.
Rather than haul the bricks to a landfill, contractors transported it to a large parking lot at Black River Park to allow local residents to take whatever ones they wanted.
Word of the available bricks got around quickly.
On Monday about a half-dozen people were sorting through the large piles of bricks and dirt to find usable ones for use around their homes.
Charles Collins of South Haven said he planned to use ones he gathered to make a patio, while Collin Raczynski was loading up bricks to give to his aunt.
“My aunt is going to make something with them,” he said. “I don’t even know yet. I’m just the laborer.”
This isn’t the first time city officials have let residents take home old bricks that once lined downtown streets.
“We provided a similar service with the Phoenix Street project” in 2014, Dissette said.
Area residents who don’t get the opportunity to obtain bricks from Center Street’s reconstruction don’t need to worry. When the second phase of the project begins later this fall, workers intend to remove the old bricks underneath the asphalt surface south of Phoenix Street.
“We kind of figure the public paid for them originally, we might as well return them to the public,” Dissette said.