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“Bricks. That’s right, bricks.”

by Prince Of Petworth May 22, 2017 at 3:30 pm 13 Comments

Ed. Note: I love stuff like this, truly. I also drink high ABV beers so there may be a bit of a correlation there. But seriously, don’t ever hesitate to email me at [email protected] with your finds. Thanks to Tom Hershenson for sending and explaining these great details.

“Dear PoPville,

Just wanted to share three recently spotted examples of the unusual (and even whimsical) in DC masonry bonds:

“Roman” bond on Biltmore St. NW — note how, on one row (a “course”) of brick, the horizontal lines between the bricks, rather than intersecting with the middle of the bricks of the courses immediately above and below, intersect the bricks above/below at a third of a way along the brick. Also, look how much longer these bricks are compared to red ones:

“English Cross” bond on Ordway St. NW — while most of the courses are bricks laid end-to-end (so-called stretchers) to form a “running” bond, notice how the second course from the top alternates a stretcher then a header (a brick turned 90 degrees from the stretcher orientation, so that its end faces out). That sequence occurs again at the 8th course from the top…and again in the (somewhat obscured) 14th row. All the headers in all the courses should line up vertically; alas only the 2nd and 8th rows do, with the 14th slightly misaligned:

Here, a bit of whimsy on Alton Pl. NW, with the D.C.-ubiquitous “common” bond (several running courses, then a course of headers, then running courses again, blah blah blah *yawn*…) interrupted by rectangles: three “soldiers” (bricks oriented with their long side vertical) enclosing three-brick stacks composed of stretchers:

  • Ned

    No love for the Flemish bond? Not to be mistaken for Fleming’s Bond…

  • Emmaleigh504

    I love stuff like this, thanks for posting!

  • cool!

    Loved this.

  • Mike

    That’s actually pretty interesting stuff!

  • Amy Terris

    This is SOOOOOOO cool. Thanks for posting. In fact, I would love a running “Cool Architectural Points” spot where you show cool photos like this and explain so I can appreciate how great DC is. Seriously, start with things like Mansard Roofs, Victtorian evolving into Craftsman or whatever. I don’t know enough to riff on this and I want to be able to.

    • AMDCer


    • textdoc

      Ditto! Like a “Historical Architecture for Dummies.” Mansard roofs, Beaux-Arts style, Craftsman style as distinguished from Sears models, cornices, and all those nifty embellishments we see in photos of older houses that we don’t necessarily have the vocabulary to describe. (“You, know that funky thing over the window.”)

      • LittleBluePenguin

        Thirded! I’d love more stuff like this!

  • Kate

    I love this, too. Reminds me of my favorite architecture professor in college. Thanks!

  • textdoc

    This is awesome. Thanks, Tom Hershenson!

  • wdc

    One of my kids (elementary school aged) recently noticed the stars on the side of an end row house, and asked about them. I explained. Ever since then, she’s been wondering if we have hidden anchor plates on our house (we don’t, we’re mid-row), and hoping that they’re cats. I’ve told her I’ve never seen cat anchor plates. She’s still hoping,, though.
    Which is to say, even little kids think masonry is cool.

  • Vered

    I was looking at a building today on Kennedy St., part of which has been painted in Pepto Bismol pink, distracting from the interesting and skilled bricklaying details throughout the building. The building is occupied by the Sam’s Wok and Grill on the northeast corner of Kennedy and Georgia. Look at the back of the building (parking lot side) and notice how the corners are formed. If I remember, I will go back and get pictures to send in.

    There’s something wonderful about how the creators of these buildings incorporated such lighthearted designs into so heavy a medium as brick and mortar, with results to be appreciated for generations.

    Thanks so much for running this, Dan, and OP thanks for sending it!


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