By Emily Gallagher
Times West Virginian
As a state, West Virginia has had many “firsts.”
One of those is being home to the first brick-paved street in the United States.
According to the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, in 1870 a Charleston man by the name of Mordecai Levi had an idea that would improve the hard-packed dirt streets of the city.
Nancy Wilson Cassady, one of Levi’s granddaughters, wrote a letter to the Centennial Commission of West Virginia on June 7, 1962, explaining why Levi started paving with bricks and how it was done. She wrote that Levi wanted something that wouldn’t turn to mud in the spring like dirts roads would. As the Division of Culture and History explained, this was a time when horses and carriages were popular and automobiles were decades away.
That year was also the year Levi experimented with brick roads by paving Summers Street in Charleston. He finished the block in 1873.
Cassady mentioned in her letter that Dr. John Hale paid for the brick. Hale had applied to the city council for permission to lay the brick at his own expense.
Levi later got a patent for the paving method he invented. That was after he changed the way of preparing the planks used under the bricks and sand, improving the method.