Welcome to The Masonry of Denver! This blog was inspired by the incredible variety of masonry materials and construction in Denver. But it all began with this unique brick pattern.
Being a new transplant to Denver from the East Coast, I had never before seen this type of brick. As I wandered around the city, I began to see this brick and its red-colored cousin all over the place. You can find it in Congress Park, Baker, Highlands, Five Points, Downtown, Capitol Hill–in pretty much any neighborhood where there are early twentieth-century bungalows. Every time I saw it, I became more and more fascinated.
How on earth was it made? It sometimes has vertical striations like other bricks of the 1920s and 30s, so clearly it was extruded through a toothed mold to give it striations. That’s normal. Yet the manufacturer took it one step further to add spirals. But how? With what tool? A preservationist friend suggested that the manufacturer put string in a mold, which would burn off in the kiln. Great guess, but this brick has clay residue that built up at the spirals, suggesting that the spirals were “drawn” onto the wet clay using a sharp tool. See?
So the string theory was out the window. I thought I saw repetitions in the bricks, which would mean the bricks were cast in a mold or manufactured with a few repeating patterns. Upon closer inspection, though, the pattern theory didn’t pan out. Several bricks look similar, but none are exact matches to each other.
So I’m stumped. My guess is that the bricks were extruded and placed on drying racks. When they became thumb-print hard, a machine etched the bricks with spiral patterns. They were then fully air dried, then put in the kiln. That’s my working theory at the moment. Perhaps I’m wrong. Or perhaps I’m correct. Either way, welcome to The Masonry of Denver.
My goal with this blog is to chronicle the unique masonry of Denver and its environs. I plan to examine both historic and contemporary masonry of all types: brick, stone, cast stone, terra cotta, concrete, and everything in between. I also intend to look into the history of Denver’s masonry, where it came from, and how it was used. My goal is to provide a different view of Denver’s architecture, not only from a design perspective but also from a construction perspective. I welcome questions, comments, and suggestions of interesting buildings I should examine.