Preservation Pop Quiz

Pop Quiz: Describe this brickwork on the municipal building in White River Junction, VT.

Many of you may be familiar with brick bonds, but what would you brick detailing? In this photograph, the bricks are turned and set in patterns. How would describe the brickwork in this snapshot?


16 thoughts on “Preservation Pop Quiz

  1. Karri says:

    From this pic it doesn’t look like a Tudor building, but the 3D patterns made with bricks reminds me very much of Tudor techniques.

  2. Maria says:

    intricate brickwork in my field notes then flip through McAllister (still my favorite book 🙂 Have you ever heard of the 45 degree angle called a houndstooth pattern?

  3. pjsarecomfyn says:

    This is a great pop quiz! I was looking at a series of row homes with a detailed brick cornice and had no idea how I would describe it. I am excited to hear from someone with expertise!

  4. jane says:

    What an amazing array of patterns and shadows, all from the same simple thing! What a cornice!!

    My extensive library seems to have no answers. I suggest we name them.

    I start over the window where there is a known pattern: ‘soldiers’ in an arch. Aha! Yes!
    The names for the bricks as placed are known – see McAlester
    1) bricks side by side: stretchers
    2) bricks on end: headers
    3) bricks standing: soldiers if narrow side of brick shows
    sailors if wide side shows
    4) bricks extended or recessed (this one I just made up) ‘shadows’

    from the soldiers in an arch up:
    angled soldiers
    running stretchers (might include headers, I can’t tell)
    angled headers
    running stretchers
    extended bricks in sets – creating row of complex dentils,
    10 rows of shadow stretchers,
    copper (?) cap and flashing

    Usually structural brick walls at this time, 1870- 1910, are laid as stretchers for 6-7 rows, then tied to the inner 2 courses with headers. I can’t see that from the photograph either.

    (There is a pattern called ‘tapestry’ that is used when the bricks become simply facade, not structural, post WWI. There are also names for the patterns the Dutch used in the Hudson Valley, NY, before 1800. )

    What do you think?

  5. Paula Sagerman says:

    I did the National Register nomination for this building, as part of the White River Junction historic district. The building was constructed as the local high school in 1884 and 1895; I can’t tell from the photo when this corner was built, but the 1895 section was designed to match the 1884 section.

    Here’s my embarrassingly clunky description of the cornice:

    …above the second story windows is decorative brickwork that includes a band of soldier bricks set at a 45 degree angle, a band of denticulated brick, a band of small cross-shaped recesses, and a nine-withe corbeled cornice.

    If I had the opportunity to rewrite it, I would use the words “stylized” and “repeating” to try and describe the cross-shaped patterns.

  6. jane says:

    I’m impressed, Paula! simpler than my list. I like “stylized” and “repeating”

    I decided “shadow” wasn’t a word with enough power to describe bricks

    I spent the day thinking about how an architect would have explained to the builder/mason in words what he wanted – didn’t come up with any good answers ——yet!

  7. Karri says:

    Found it! I think “corbeled” brick is the term we’re looking for (and those bricks on an angle would be “angled brick corbelling”) – do a Google images search and it sure looks like it. Here’s a guide to Colonial buildings Colonial Williamsburg had: A design guide going into the history of clay brickwork corbelling: And a short article my local paper ran on corbelling a few years ago:

  8. jane says:

    the design guide is excellent – and has lots of words to use to describe the various patterns – thanks

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