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Guest Lecture: Baltimore Bricks

by: Ashley

Guest Lecture: Baltimore Bricks Hist 382

Marketplace > University of Baltimore > History > Hist 382 > Guest Lecture Baltimore Bricks
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About this Document

Examining brick styles and their production in Baltimore at the turn of the century.
History of Baltimore
Dr. Elizabeth Nix
Class Notes
Baltimore, bricks, history, Of, University of Baltimore
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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Ashley on Monday October 3, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Hist 382 at University of Baltimore taught by Dr. Elizabeth Nix in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 7 views. For similar materials see History of Baltimore in History at University of Baltimore.


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Date Created: 10/03/16
Ashley Jenkins History of Baltimore October 3, 2016 Week 6. Guest Speaker: Matt Pollock- Bricks  Bricks are everywhere  Hope as a brick nerd, that we’ll start to notice them, once you turn it on you can’t turn it off  Cities are made out of bricks.  Started out a hobby  His dad decided to steal bricks on his way home from work.  Idea was to take the bricks and make a patio  Would steal bricks from other states for his collections.  Not all bricks are created equal  Some prettier older, bigger, names of makers, lots of differences  Started to steal bricks for his dad.  Would skip work to steal bricks off the street.  Became a kleptomaniac about bricks.  In his ‘spare time’ he runs around the country stealing bricks for his collection.  Quit his job after reading an article in the Sun, going to unveil a new project.  Every part of the city had a vacancy issue.  Hire people from the neighborhoods to deconstruct the buildings.  Taking it apart piece by piece.  Has been doing it for almost 3 years  Details deconstructions  Brick and Board – his business  Salvage business.  Baltimore is the city of bricks because confluence of geography and geology  Natural resources that are available.  In ancient Egypt they didn’t have many trees, so they had to sunbake their bricks.  City development is a product of the natural resources around them  Baltimore I built on a clay bed, some glacier came through, anyways there are giant clay mounds under the city  Tons of forests around here, even more when we first settled.  Could fire bricks higher  Infrastructure to transport bricks- waterways  Need all ingredients  Water  Clay  Fires (wood)  Baltimore had all ingredients  Baltimore became THE exporter of bricks.  Cost made it attractive to other cities.  Bricks are very heavy; transportation is an issue to tackle.  Mules and carts were first transporters of bricks.  Difficult to maneuver down the road, mud roads  Hyper local brick yards, set up to make bricks in close proximity to the city’s development.  Baltimore late 1800s  Demand for bricks to build buildings  Didn’t want to have the brick yard right next to the new development.  You were taking valuable land that could be developed.  Natural consequence, they start to form at the edges of the development.  Need it close, but also far enough away from the development  Expands outward from the core, the yards move even further, etc.  In 1876 much of the core of Baltimore was already built up, west Baltimore already kind of build up  East Baltimore was the frontier  Not too many row houses  All of it was brick yards  Great clay  Supply and demand in new construction  1890 east Baltimore was full or row houses and the brick yards moved even further  Anticipate the development of Baltimore  1830’s  Baltimore gains the reputation of having the highest quality brick  One of the largest city in the country.  Builders in Philly, New York, Boston etc. shipped bricks from Baltimore  Imported it from hundreds of miles away.  Expensive, because it was heavy over a long distance  Common bricks and face bricks- two main types  Common bricks are  On the interior of the wall  Back wall  Only purpose was to have other bricks stand on top of them to make the wall stronger  Make it cheap as you can because they’re not going to be visible  Face bricks  Could withstand the elements  Durable  Needed to look good.  Face bricks in high demand  Similar to making a common brick  Filter out impurities  Bake them in the kiln at a much higher temp and for longer  With the advent of steam power, they made a machine that could do what a mule could do in minuets,  Mix up the clay and sand  Then it would go into a mold  Pop out the mold, and let the brick air dry  Then moved to the kiln  Kept the kiln on for days  Higher temperatures made for stronger bricks.  Throughout the nineteenth cent. Lots of inventors saw a need  Making new cities, needed bricks  Needed an easier way to do it  Any step they could eliminate human hands and replace it with a machine they would want to do that.  Ways to reduce human labor  Lots of ideas to reduce human factor  Not many actually worked.  City building inspector would fine you if your bricks were too big  Standard size for bricks.  Happened in England and European cities  Tried to gain revenue through taxes and instituted a brick tax  Tax the building based on the number of bricks  Made bigger bricks so they wouldn’t have to pay as much taxes.  Tried to push through standardization, but couldn’t get it to be unison.  Bricks don’t retain their shape perfectly, face bricks may, but not guaranteed.  All of the gadgets did not eliminate the human element  Intragyral to brick making  Man and machine working together.  Sometimes the bricks have fingerprints in the.  Molded and mixed by a machine, spit out by a machine  Humans would take them to dry.  Still impressionable.  Ornamental face bricks  Came from fronts of row houses  Have designs and intricate patterns on them.  Made them without electricity and very primitive tools.  When people are looking for bricks for historic restoration they can name their price  Brick makers will charge thousands of dollars to make one brick, because they have to make a new mold.  The biggest group of purchasers for bricks are brick slicers  Slice veneer off of the brick to make like a tile.  People who want the exposed brick look while keeping their square footage.  Can’t use the brick after the surface is cut  Started to create products with the middle of the bricks.  New brick tiles, prick pavers, decrease the amount of waste from hipsters.  some bricks have the initials of the brick company molded into the brick  called a frog  process of making them the mold has an indentation, sort of looks like a ‘frog’  others think it looks like horse’s hoof prints  device that you used to make a frog was called a kicker  kicker in Dutch meant frog.  Brick with frogs yielded higher brick amounts.  Less clay to make one, more clay to make new bricks.  Weight was less as well.  Indentation acts as a key, fastens the mortar from one brick to another.  Gave it more surface area to connect too  Early form of advertising. Gets the word out about your product.  1880s 1890s  Half a dozen brick yards that occupied area in east Baltimore.  1899 huge shift in the brick game in Baltimore  Mirrors similar shifts happening around the country  A giant monopoly was formed.  Baltimore Brick Company  23 smaller brick companies into one.  Few hold outs, but BBC couldn’t keep up.  Eliminated competition by buying all of the competition.  Almost never see frogs in Baltimore Bricks  Advertising wasn’t necessary, they were from the Baltimore brick company.  Homewood and Calvert were brands of the Baltimore Brick Company  Those are the only real frogs you’re going to find around town.  Monopoly exists in the early 20 century  Common brick game was locked up by the BBC  Face bricks were so far superior to all the other bricks in all the cities.  Exported them near and far  Other folks were making better face bricks.  Higher iron content  Higher mineral content  Steel mills in PA would fire the bricks at higher temp.  Face brick industry was done by 1912.  Everything imported from PA, OH, other states.  Yellow bricks are called iron spots.  Iron would leech out of the brick to the surface of the brick  Black sports all over from the iron coloring.  Fucking Ohio.  Form stone  The most Baltimore thing  Stucco that is applied to the fronts of building  Forms are stuck on it so that it looks like stone  But not really.  “this will dignify your row house”  “this will enable you to never have to maintain your bricks”  If you go into neighborhoods in east Baltimore, you see it everywhere.  You don’t’ want to be the one block on the house without formstone.  Greatest lie ever told.  Peer pressure and great sales pitch  In deconstruction they take the formstone off  If even the tiniest bit of water gets between the formstone and the brick it’ll freeze and thaw and freeze and thaw over and over.  Quality of the bricks under formstone is far inferior to just regular old bricks.  Degrades the bricks worse.  Formstone has almost become charming.


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