Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Brick Sewers And Bricklayers Celebrate 150 Years

Fort Wayne City Utilities
Brick was a common material for sewers built between 1865-1910.

On Wednesday, city officials gathered for the 150th anniversary of the city's first brick sewer. For many, the milestone is more than just a celebration of sewers.

Credit Lisa Ryan, WBOI News
Mayor Henry stands next to Dick Schafenacker, who was a bricklayer for 70 years.

Fort Wayne City Utilities, the international bricklayers union and Fort Wayne's mayor joined together to celebrate the city's first brick sewer, which was built 150 years ago.

Mayor Tom Henry and bricklayers gathered around a cake decorated to look like bricks.

"This is a day of celebration,” Henry said. “We do have cake that we're going to be cutting here in a few minutes. A 150-year-old cake, or something like that.”

The event also celebrated the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, which started 150 years ago this Saturday.

Glenn Head is a representative for the union and he's been a bricklayer for about 26 years. He’s following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather.

"It's kind of in my blood. I've been around it all my life,” Head said. “I really enjoy it. I mean, it's the best feeling of being able to go back, like I said almost 26 years, and can go back and look at stuff that I worked on 26 years ago."

Credit Fort Wayne City Utilities
The inside of a brick sewer in Fort Wayne. The city has 15 miles of brick sewers.

City Utilities Spokesman Frank Suarez says Fort Wayne has about 1,400 miles of sewer drains, made from a variety of materials depending on what was popular at the time. He says brick was especially popular between 1865 and the 1900s. After that, cast iron, concrete and clay replaced brick. Today, most sewers are made out of an especially strong PVC pipe.

Most of the original 15 miles of brick sewers are still in place. Suarez says they’re still in good shape, but routine video inspections are done to ensure the drains stay that way.

Related Content