Nearly a century ago, Blair's dirt streets were replaced with brick.
“The bricks are there to stay — stuck tighter than a wood tick to a pup's ear,” according to an article published in the Oct. 14, 1920, Blair Tribune.
But in the 99 years since those bricks were laid by hand, modern technology has led to asphalt, a cheaper and more readily available material, for streets. Slowly, Blair's bricks were removed, or in some cases, paved over for the contemporary streets.
Twice, in 20 years, this has caused issue with some residents of Blair.
An announcement of plans to tear up the bricks — with the exception of the historic district, which included an eight-block area along 16th South streets — and replace them with asphalt in 2001 led to the formation of the Blair Historic Preservation Alliance.
In March, BHPA president Dawn Nielsen, who was one of the opponents of the plans two decades ago, again voiced her opposition. This time against plans to asphalt one block of South Street between 17th and 18th streets.
Nielsen doesn't believe the whole block needs to be ripped up and believes this will only lead to more of the brick streets disappearing.
“It's just chipping away at the streets a block at a time,” she told the Enterprise.
In a letter to city officials, Nielsen suggested the city work with a committee and the BHPA to create a comprehensive plan for the brick streets.
On Tuesday, Mayor Rich Hansen agreed.
This is the right decision for Blair. A committee can study the streets, propose a plan and possibly raise funds to keep them properly maintained.
So many, not just the BHPA, have shown their support for the brick streets. The Enterprise received hundreds of comments of approval on its Facebook page for the city to keep the bricks.
The bricks add character to the city. And surprisingly — or maybe not — the streets have held up quite well in the decades since they were first installed.