The Legend of the Bricks


History Lives at LWMA
1908 - Today

Story by Brian V. Brunner('64) - 3/6/2000

Update Note by Paul Tate (LWMA Faculty, 1965 - 1983) - 3/8/2000


Let me say that a lot of the statements in this story are from stories that I have heard over the years. So it may not all be historically accurate, thus it is a "legend". I know the parts that I saw myself are true and I took the 1981 photo myself. I also received the information about Jerri Beck from her personally. This building was frist known as "Goodwill Hall ", later "Old Brick", and lastly "Russell Hall", or just plain "CQ". The new Headquarters Building was built on the same site as Russell Hall, in 1986, and some of the funds for the new building came form the Russell Foundation. Because of that the old plaque from the old Russell Hall was placed on the new building. The Plaque reads "Robert A. Russell Hall - September 1960". The old building became "Russell Hall" after the 1960 remodeling that Robert A. Russell's Foundation paid for also.

NOTE: The pictures I will be describing in this story will be loaded at the end of the story.

You can see the difference in the color of the bricks in the 1981 color picture. The color changes, about half way up the second floor windows. That's where quality of the brick changes....

Back in 1908-09 when that building was built, there was no Home Depot to go get the building supplies! The faculty, staff, and students (with a little outside advice I'm sure) cut the trees and processed the logs into boards at the school's own sawmill. The bricks were made on the spot also. They did not notice that something was wrong with the bricks until after they had already built more than one and a half stories of walls. Those bricks had not been left in kiln long enough or maybe the temperature of the kiln was not high enough. Those first bricks were not hard enough, became brittle and easy to crumble.

Dr. Ward called on his friend Booker T. Washington down at the Tuskegee Institute to come and tell him what they had done wrong. He came up and showed Dr. Ward and the students how to properly kiln the bricks. So they finished the second and third floor with the good bricks. I guess they just could not afford to start over.

All this would have worked fine if the bricks had just been an outside layer as the veneer jobs they do today. But in that day and age, the bricks were part of the main structure of the building!

By the early 1980's this building had been remodeled at least three times. The last time was to put on a new roof and the dormer windows were removed from the third floor. The old dormitory rooms were used only for storage by then anyway.

The last time I saw Russell Hall in was in 1985, and it had a crack running all the way up the back that was at least three inches wide at the base. The whole building seemed to be falling down under its own weight and the cost of rebuilding it would have been much more than building a new HQ - CQ building. The old building was demolished in December of 1985.

But to the last the old building showed it was not about to fall down by itself. They brought in a wrecking ball to make short work of the old landmark. "Easier said, than done" was the theme song of what happened next. They swung the ball back and it hit the wall with a loud bang.... But all that happened was the ball stopped, and the wall remained standing. It was as if all the students who help build it and later lived there were saying, "Just a minute, please. Not without a fight!". That was when they had to bring in a bulldozer to attack the building from the ground up! A job that everyone thought would take fifteen minutes, took an hour.

If you look at the picture with the bulldozer in it you can see the inside of the two third story end rooms. Charles Cook and I lived in one on the left when we graduated in 1964. Over the four years I was at LWMA I lived in Russell Hall, off and on, for most of two of those years.

Today, you will notice around the campus that there are bricks inlaid into a circle and an X in the front porches of some of the Dixon Chapel and the "New" Headquarters building that replaced Russell Hall. The bricks at the Chapel came from the foundation of Dr. Ward's house, "the old haunted house", that was located on that site. Those bricks in the porch of the new Headquarters building are from Russell Hall. The circle represents the promise of a quarter that the school was started on and the X stand for the red X on the state flag of Alabama. This symbol also appears near the top of LWMA school patch where the sword and rifle cross.

The bricks around the General T. L. Futch monument stone next to the reviewing stand on the Futch Parade Field came from Russell Hall where General Futch's office was located during his tenure.

In 1997 after Jerri Beck did her research for the LWMA Centennial (1898 - 1998) History book she asked for in her contract, as part of her fee, a brick from Russell Hall!


From: Paul Tate (PAULTATE)
Date: Mar-8-2000 11:05 pm
To: Brian Brunner(64) (BVBRUNNER)

Brian: Good job on the Bricks story. Only one correction. The "circle X" emblem used on the front porch of the Dixon chapel came from the foundation of the old haunted house, which had been the residence of Dr. and Mrs. Ward, and had been located on the same site as the one selected for the chapel.


Paul's update has now been incorporated into the first part of the story plus more legend about the walls not falling down that I heard during Alumni Day, May 6, 2000.

Brian V. Brunner


More Bricks - More Legend!


I found a photo of the Alumni Memorial Plaque taken in 1999 (see below). I noticed that there are some old looking bricks under the new (1987) flagpole. I knew J. C. Sizemore '76 was one of the alumni who helped with that peoject, so I asked him if those bricks came from Russell Hall.
His reply was:

To: Brian V. Brunner 1964 (BVBRUNNER)
Subject: Re: Question
Date: 8/8/01 6:37AM
From: James Sizemore


The answer to your question is yes. The bricks used were from the old
CQ building (Russell Hall). If I can be of further help, just ask.


Then Paul Tate sent in this reminder:

From: Paul Tate (PAULTATE)
Date: Aug-10 7:08 am
Brian V. Brunner 1964 (BVBRUNNER)

Plese note that the memorial flag pole is just that: the flagpole itself. The brick you refer to is those used at the base of a new flag pole.

The brick and cement slab used in the platform supporting the cannons were new and that platform was built many years before 1987. A trip back through old yearbooks will trace its original construction date.

Just for eventual clarification ...

(Note: The records in the Alumni Office say the Flagpole / Cannon platform was built in 1967.

Note: For pictures of the Dixon chapel and the old haunted house see the story about -

Dr. Lyman Ward.

Goodwill Hall(1907)
Goodwill Hall under construction
in 1907

Line at bottom reads:
Dormitory Sou. Industrial Institute
- Camp Hill, Ala.

Goodwill Hall(19??)
Goodwill Hall(19??)

Russell Hall(1961)
Russell Hall(1960)

Russell Hall(1981)
Russell Hall(1981)

Russell Hall(1985)
Russell Hall(1985)

New HQ Built 1986 - Photo 1999
New Headquarters Building - Built 1986 - photo taken May 1999

Circle X 5/6/2000
Circle - X - New Headquarters Building - May 2000

Reviewing Stand and Parade Field Marker May 1992
Reviewing stand and General T. L. Futch Parade Field Marker - May 1992

Alumni Memorial Flagpole and Plaque

Erected 1987 by the
L.W.M.A. Alumni Association

Alumni Plaque 1999

Photos taken in May, 1999

(Note: The brick and concrete base for the flagpole
and cannons was constructed in 1967.)

Flagpole 1999

school patch

Return to the Stories Contents Page.
Return to the History Contents Page.

Return to the Alumni Home Page.