New “Brick by Brick” exhibit debuts this week—what you need to know

Daniel Brandon brick by brick
This is Mr. Brandon, builder, community leader and civil rights activist. (Historic Huntsville Foundation / Jim Teed Photographer / Facebook)

The Historic Huntsville Foundation brings rich history to the forefront here in Huntsville. Their “Rooted in History” series has been both inspiring and educational so far with the exhibit “Celebrating Women as Makers, Creators, Movers & Shakers.”

Now, they’re celebrating two little-known but hugely impactful Black builders, Henderson and Daniel Brandon, who built some of the most iconic buildings in the Huntsville skyline. This is the “Brick by Brick” exhibit.

The exhibit showcases the work of the Brandon family builders

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Fascinating. (Historic Huntsville Foundation / Facebook)

Henderson and Daniel Brandon founded Henderson Brandon & Son, a brick masonry firm. They used those bricks to build some of the most iconic buildings in Huntsville and Madison.

Henderson Brandon was born a slave, purchased his freedom, established his brick and building business, was a civil rights activist and built now-famous buildings in Huntsville and Madison with his son Daniel.

During the late 1800s, Henderson Brandon & Son was the most successful black-owned business in Huntsville—and they built it brick by brick.

Not only was Daniel Brandon a successful businessman, but he was also elected twice to Huntsville’s Board of Alderman (in 1897 and 1901) and fought against racial injustice. In 1920, his wife, Ellen, was one of six women in Huntsville who registered to vote.

Apparently, determination and passion ran in the family.

Today, you can still see 3 of the 11 buildings that the Hendersons built.

  • Baker Helms Building: 101 Washington Street in Downtown Huntsville
  • Harrison Brothers Building: 112 Southside Square in Downtown Huntsville
  • Humphrey Bros Building: 112 Main Street in Madison

The Hendersons also built other demolished or ruined buildings around Huntsville, including the Dallas Textile Mill and the Federal Courthouse and U.S. Post Office.

You can see the exhibit starting this week

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A local artist, Sonya Clemons—also known as “Art Lady Sonya”—painted these bricks. (Historic Huntsville Foundation / Facebook)

The exhibit to celebrate Henderson and Daniel Brandon is starting this week, and you’ve got a good amount of time to see it. Here’s the details on Brick by Brick.

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Sarah Gronberg
Sarah Gronberg
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