Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Back to basic brick, briefly

Like Brigadoon, the musical (Lerner & Loewe) Scots village that shows up only one day every 100 years, the original brick-paved surface of North Grand Street has reappeared this week on several blocks commencing just north of the high school.

But hurry --- it won't be visible for long. In fact, it may vanish today.

The asphalt overlay on that stretch of street, badly deteriorated, has been ground away as part of Chariton's 2013 street program and will be replaced immediately. The underlying brick, not surprisingly when you think about it, was in far better shape than the old surface. And it will outlast the new surface, too.

In the grand scheme of things, that brick paving isn't that old. Although Chariton was considered one of the richest county seat towns in the state at the time, all of its streets were basic dirt until 1903. The city didn't have a water system then either, a major reason why substantial chunks of it kept burning down.

Paving of the square commenced during 1903 and spread outward during the next few years, so the North Grand brick surface probably is somewhere between 100 and 110 years old.

While there certainly were progressive males in Chariton as the 19th century ended, it took a group of determined women to turn up the heat and build the momentum needed to shove their hometown into the 20th century.  

With Jessie (Mallory) Thayer at the helm, these women --- some of them rather grand --- formed the city's first improvement association during the 1890s and began complaining loudly about the shameful condition of the city's streets, sidewalks and parks, then got to work to do something about it.

But that's a story for another time.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I walk south on Grand from Ilion many early mornings. It was a surprise Mon. morning seeing the street project. As I walked the mostly dark exposed brick street, I was imagining the time when they were new, the extensive tree lined canopy above, the horse drawn carriages at the time. It was a delightful morning walk, but you had to really watch where you were going, well you always did, or the potholes would gobble you up