Save the Remains of the Chattahoochee Brick Company
The Chattahoochee Brick Company Historic Protection Alliance (CBCHPA) aims to preserve the original structures of the Chattahoochee Brick Company (CBC)
Chattahoochee Brick was the site of one of the worst human rights abuses of the Jim Crow era. In the late 1800's, thousands of "vagrants" and other prisoners were leased by the corrections systems to private mines, plantations and factories to work in horrific conditions - worse than slavery because there was no economic interest in the health of the convict workers. Workers would be bought and sold at very low prices and treated as disposable pieces in many industries.
Many of the these people were literally worked to death, beaten, buried on the site, or disposed of in the brick kilns. The convict leasing phenomenon in general and the Chattahoochee Brick story in particular are detailed in the 2009 Pulitzer Prize winning "Slavery by Another Name" by Wall Street Journal reporter Douglas Blackmon.
Newly Discovered Tunnel System
Recently, we have discovered a multi-level network of tunnels underneath the site, likely dating back to the 1800's. These tunnels were used alongside beehive kilns in a system which used hot air to dry brick. The hot air was drawn down from above-ground kilns via a manually operated turbine which can be seen in the photo gallery. This was also used as an economical way to control the temperature of the above-ground kilns.
There are several areas throughout the tunnels where cement has been poured and has blocked passageways. cave-ins have also happened in several areas of the tunnel system which could allow further access if they are cleared.
In the recent years, the property has been bought and sold several times by companies planning construction in the area. Due to the structural difficulty of the site, it has been seen by several companies as a very cheap piece of land in a very advantageous position. However, construction in that area could lead to permanent destruction of the historical site.
Our goal as the CBCHPA is to increase awareness and push to preserve the original structures of the CBC and aid in the remembrance of the horrors upon which many of Atlanta's oldest structures were built. Especially now, we must seek new ways to learn history in order to better the future.