The Dart: Men build legacy, one brick at a time

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 16, 2016

NATCHEZ — To passersby the three men toiling in the sun on State Street were merely laborers. But their work is building a legacy for themselves one brick at a time.

The Dart found the three men last week, laying brick on a house project.

As Duncan Morgan, Mizell Noble and Dwight Berry placed antique bricks on the house’s exterior as part of an ongoing renovation, they stopped to talk about the past and the future of the business.

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One of the men hopes to be part of a legacy.

Noble said he has been doing brickwork, as well as other outdoor employment, for 20 years.

His father, Eddie Hargrave, got Noble started when he was in his 20s.

“Dad was a guy who liked outside work,” Noble said. “He did it all his life, too.”

Outdoor work is far more to Noble’s liking than anything in an office, he said.

“It feels better being able to sweat,” he said as a bead dripped off his nose. “Makes me feel better, anyway.”

Noble continued cleaning and stacking the old bricks, which the builders had brought down from St. Louis, Mo., to achieve a vintage feel for the renovation.

Noble said he doesn’t see his father’s work as part of his own legacy, necessarily.

“You leave your legacy on places you’ve done all your life,” Noble said. “Legacy is how good your work is, and your attitude with people.”

He motioned to his employer, Duncan Morgan, who was working beside him.

“Like him,” he said. “He pretty much redid Natchez.”

Morgan said he has been working doing restoration brickwork for 68 years, and his family has been in restorations since 1890.

“There’s not an antebellum house in Natchez that I haven’t done something on,” he said. “There’s so much restoration I do that nobody else has done.”

For Morgan, the field is satisfying because of the lasting effects of his work, even if he does his best not to leave his mark on the buildings he restores.

“You want to make it look like you were never there,” he said. “Like that was the way it always was.”

His effect on Natchez, he admits, is anything but subtle.

“To work 68 years, if you don’t build a legacy, there’s something wrong,” he said.