MISSOULA – You can't go back in time, but you can own a piece of it – if you've got $50 bucks, a construction project and some elbow grease.
The University of Montana is selling historic bricks from the campus Oval walkways, repurposed from a large-scale reconstruction project this summer that renovated UM’s cherished Oval walkways to make smoother and safter for transportation.
The $250,000 infrastructure investment replaced the timeworn bricks, many of them damaged from years of freeze-thaw cycles that made wheelchair accessibility and foot and bike transportation difficult. The project concluded this fall with smooth, stamped concrete textured to resemble bricks, honoring UM’s classical aesthetic and original design.
About 60,000 to 70,000 of the original bricks were salvaged from the project, and UM Facilities Services plans to repurpose and reuse them for future campus projects.
The rest are for up for public auction through Oct. 22, found on UM’s public surplus website at http://bit.ly/umbricks. The auction begins at $50 for two half pallets of the 1913 bricks, which includes about 600 individual bricks per auction lot. There are 30 auction lots available to the public.
“We have lots and lots of bricks,” said Chris Newlon, UM maintenance supervisor.
Newlon said the pallets are ideal for a small-scale projects like a patio, fire ring or a garden project.
“Because these bricks were originally made for roadways, they are heavier (about 6 pounds) than modern bricks and much more durable,” he said. “We encourage anyone with either a construction project or fond memory of the original brick walkways to consider bidding.”
Originally placed on downtown Missoula streets between 1912 and 1914, the bricks were repurposed in 1969 for campus crossways that run east-west and north-south on the Oval in the center of campus. The bricks were made at the former Denny-Renton Clay and Coal Co. in Renton, Washington ꟷ once the largest producers of brick pavers in the world.
The first 80 years, the campus lacked walkways across the Oval, and it was considered taboo to walk across the campus greens. University archives include records of a paddling punishment for those caught breaking the rules and a silent sentinel who blew a whistle when the greens were trespassed.
Eventually, the University plans to sell individual bricks through the Alumni Association and the proceeds will be reserved for future capital improvements.
Contact: Jody Parrow, UM procurement officer, 406-243-4064, firstname.lastname@example.org.