The Twelve Bricks of Christmas

The Masonry of Denver would like to wish you and your loved ones a Happy Holidays.  I would also like to thank you for reading my blog over the past six months.  It has been a wonderful gift to me that others find this stuff interesting, too.  (Or at least you’re good at humoring me, which I also appreciate.)  Thank you.


And now, introducing The Twelve Bricks of Christmas, Denver-style.  Sing along with me!

(Starting at twelve, to avoid alienating all of my readers.)


On the 12th Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:

Cool Iron-Spotting


Bricks with wire-cutting


Bricks so uneven


Bricks made by flashing


Bricks with wee dimples


Bricks so red it’s pleasing


Bricks with green glazing


Frogged Paving Bricks!!!


Bricks laid in thirds


Clinker brick


Bricks that I love


And a striped brick that’s spirally.


Miller-Built Sidewalk Plaque

My friend Ashley saw my recent post on sidewalk stamps, something she admitted she hadn’t given much thought to in the past.  But when she was visiting Washington, D.C. the other day, she noticed this awesome bronze sidewalk plaque set into concrete.


I love how old fashioned the font is, and how pebbly the concrete surface has become over time.  It’s clearly old, but I had no idea it was probably installed in the 1930s.  According to the Ghosts of DC blog, Miller-Built houses were developed by W.C. and A.N. Miller. Most of the Miller-Built houses constructed in the 20s and 30s were built in the American University Park, Spring Valley, and Wesley Heights neighborhoods in Northwest DC – neighborhoods north and west of the Cathedral, for those of you who don’t know DC very well.  The Ghosts website has a cool advertisement from 1939 describing Miller-Built houses.  According to a 1940 article in the Washington Post, also cited on the Ghosts blog,

“For 28 years ‘Miller-Built’ has been synonymous with fine architectural design and home construction, standing for quality in structural fitness, durability, meritorious architecture, comfort, convenience, livability, charm and good taste.

With developments of Wesley Heights and Spring Valley, the company has given to Washington a ‘Garden of Beautiful Homes.’ Today, these are established communities of character where residences of impressive proportions find perfect settings. Nature provided the land with rolling contours and an abundance of large trees, even brooks and streams. the developers planned the highways to blend into this environment and each home is designed to coordinate with contour, location and compass bearings of the lot.”

These were some of the most elegant modern houses built in DC in the 1910s, 20s and 30s, and they were priced accordingly.  Needless to say, they attracted wealthy Washingtonians who were interested in tasteful homes in carefully planned communities.

Right after college I lived in DC, not to far from Wesley Heights.  I used to take long walks around Wesley Heights and AU Park admiring the old houses, which were admittedly not quite as old as those in Georgetown but seemed to have been designed to blend with their lush, wooded environment.  Who knew all these years later that I’d learn more about the developers of those neighborhoods thanks to a sidewalk stamp!

Amazingly, the W.C. and A.N. Miller company is still in real-estate development after 102 years.  They build and manage shopping centers in the DC area, and their designs incorporate Colonial details such as Flemish bond brickwork, Georgian-style windows, and stone or cast stone string courses and balustrades.

If any of you come across any interesting sidewalk stamps, send them my way!  I’m always interested in “collecting” more.

City Sidewalks – Sidewalk Stamps Part 2

I love discovering interesting sidewalk stamps pressed into the concrete sidewalks of Denver.  But every time I see one of these City Sidewalk Co. stamps, I can’t help but start singing the Christmas song, “Silver Bells”.


As the song goes, soon it will be Christmas day.  So in honor of the holidays and those city sidewalks, busy sidewalks dressed in holiday style, we’re going to look at some of Denver’s more interesting sidewalk stamps.  Let’s call it Sidewalk Stamps – Part 2. (Part 1 can be found here.)

The City Sidewalk Co. was one of the more prevalent concrete sidewalk installers in the city.  Many of their stamps are illegible today, probably because the type face they used was so narrow with little spacing between letters.  De-icing salts and freeze-thaw cycling probably ruined many of their stamps.  But if you see a curvy rectangle that lifts up at the left and down at the right, you’re looking at a City Sidewalk Co. sidewalk.

JohnSandovalstampAnother prevalent sidewalk layer was John Sandoval, who seemed to be in business between the 1960s and 1980s.  I couldn’t find anything about him on the internet, but his stamp is often associated with textured concrete sidewalks, such as this wavy one below.  He also did “spotted” sidewalks, with evenly placed indents every centimeter or closer.

A friend of mine told me an interesting story about John Sandoval.  When she first moved into her house in West Highlands, one of her neighbors stopped by with a bottle of wine.  He welcomed her to the neighborhood and pointed out the wavy sidewalk in front of her house that was paved by John Sandoval.  He said John Sandoval was his uncle and the textured paving patterns were his calling card.  I’ve kept that in the back of my mind, and every time I see a wavy or spotted sidewalk, it’s been stamped by John Sandoval.  He clearly took pride in his work, and gave simple sidewalks a little bit of artistry.

Several sidewalk stamps reference the supplier of the concrete, along with the installer.  This one was made of Ideal Portland Cement and was laid by Ford Rogers in 1962.


Another Ideal Portland stamp shows it was laid by Martin & Martin, though there is no date associated with it.


Sometimes you can find an Ideal Cement bronze plaque installed into the sidewalk all by itself.  This one was laid into “spotted”-texture concrete, so it was probably laid by John Sandoval.

IdealstampIdeal Portland Cement was a product of the Colorado Portland Cement Company of Portland, Colorado, a town to the east of Cañon City.  (Although you may proudly think that Portland cement was invented in Portland, Colorado, the cement actually gets its name from Portland stone, quarried in England.  When it was first developed in England, Portland cement was said to be similar in appearance to Portland stone.  Like many towns in Colorado, Portland, Colorado was named after its primary industry.  But I digress.)  The Colorado Portland Cement Company was owned by Charles Boettcher, who made a fortune in mining, cement and sugar beets (an obvious sister industry to mining and cement?).  You may recognize his name because his family is one of the major benefactors the Denver Botanic Gardens and donated the funds to build Boettcher Concert Hall.

Plaques are pretty rare, as most sidewalks have stamps pressed into them.  I have come across a few W. Rahn Denver bronze plaques, such as the one below, but infrequently.  I can’t seem to find anything about the company.


But I did find out that the Thoutt Bros. Concrete Contractors is still alive and well.  This sidewalk was installed only seven years after the company was founded.  I like that the stamp appears to have been made with handmade letters, rather than with machine-bought lettering.


Similarly, J. A. Conley & Son had a homemade feel to their stamp.  According to Tonja Dillon Castaneda’s book, Thornton, part of the Images of America series, Jim Conley founded the J.A. Conley & Son concrete contracting company in Thornton, Colorado.  They were in business from 1956 to 1977, and laid concrete sidewalks all over Thornton and the northern parts of Denver.


Finally, I had a good laugh when I came across the sidewalk stamp below.  I wonder if John Oates had a concrete business too?


A quick aside: while Googling some of the concrete contractors’ names, I came across this Tumblr blog, Lain By, which documents sidewalk stamps in Capitol Hill.  Check it out.  It’s amazing!