Buried under asphalt, old red bricks lined East Capitol Avenue, preserved but forgotten until the recent East Capitol Avenue improvement project.
After learning construction workers planned to reuse the bricks as filling in a parking lot, Avenue HQ co-owner Quinten Rice started gathering as many as he could.
"I just knew I had to grab them while I could," Rice said, adding he received permission from contractor workers and the city to take the bricks. "I just knew they were probably going to be buried and lost, so I just tried to grab as many as I could after work and meetings that I had going on."
To preserve the bricks and highlight East Capitol Avenue's history, Rice plans to implement them into landscaping at Avenue HQ, an event space located at 621 E. Capitol Ave. Some of the projects include a walking path and flower beds.
In the spring, people will be able to see the bricks on display and know they were kept close to their origins, he said.
Rice said he was surprised the bricks were mostly intact, which spoke a lot of the craftsmanship.
"It was just incredible, thinking about the artistry and craftsmanship and time that somebody put into that to make that happen, but then for it to last over a century is incredible to me," he said. "That's one of the reasons I wanted to hold onto that and wanted people to see that, and I wanted to still have them exposed and pay a little bit of a tribute to some of the people who put the hard time and labor into that."
Community members gathered Wednesday for the East Capitol Avenue ribbon-cutting ceremony, unveiling all the improvements to the street. The $1.5 million Jefferson City-Cole County project involved replacing and repairing sidewalks, improving curbs and gutters, planting trees and adding bicycle lanes.
Rice said it was an "incredible feeling" to see the street's progress and hopes improvements will continue.
"I've had people all over the United States pull me aside and say, 'Hey, this is a beautiful city, and you have so much going on here, but what's going on with Capitol Avenue just a few blocks away from here?'" Rice said. "Just to hear the other people explain what they see and how they feel about that, it's incredible, so to see the progress of things here is so nice on so many different levels."