As the United States was settled in it's early years the building of structures for actual protection from the elements was necessary. There were no condos to move into or highrise apartments. Living in the woods and along the shore outside were the two options
The available timbers supplied wood and the use of manual labor produced wood products that would create instant shelter. The early years were lean and the use of wood beams and mud worked well but as they survived they wanted better, so they moved to building all wood structures.
In many ways the Cape Cod style house above resembles the earliest structures created in this country. The windows then were smaller and the whole building was smaller. Lean-to additions created more rooms and even saltbox house. In the originals mud and beam there was a hole in the roof to let the smoke out from the burning pit. Now they needed stone fireplaces attached so the building wouldn't burn down and even maybe brick could be used if they could buy them.
The technology from the old countries in which each of the settlers had come helped in developing brick making companies. It did become prevalent once communities became established. The resulting product to resemble brick streets and cobblestones gave them ideas of things to make from the local clay resourcss. They could create brick fireplaces and use bricks for walls of their structures.
Through the years as the middle America's were settled, towns would have pottery or brick factories set up along the rivers and in clay filled areas of the United States. Iowa is filled with reserves of clay beneath some of the rich soils. Murray, Iowa had it's own brick factory west of town and as a result the earlier years of the town had a main street lined with brick faced building. This brick building once stood as the fire station in Murray.
The quality of brick varied throughout as different factories had low or high firing furnaces which are call kilns. When you see brick crumbling on buildings, many times it is because it was a low fired brick. The clay may not be a predominate material as sand could be too high in proportion. Low fired material never gets hot enough to make it able to weather the elements. The higher the heat the stronger the brick.
A state institution that was built north of my town has mostly brick buildings. The main large buildings all are fully covered with brick. The farm buildings that were created to do the agricultural work for the institution were also made of the same material. The farm buildings helped to store food for the residence to eat throughout the year.
I am assuming that there was a brick company in this area or that they were shipped in from our county seat town of Perry, Iowa. They have a brick factory there yet today making bricks that are shipped throughout the United States. It has become an automated factory with train car sized containers being fired with shelves of brick inside.
An older outbuilding that I photographed in Maine was created with brick. Because the east coast has been settled longer than where I live, this brick could have been made in the early 1800's or even before that. The lighthouse that sits next to this structure was probably made of brick but they covered it with a concrete coating like frosting to cover up it's brick appearance.
As a side note of info, I was surprised to find that the round columns placed on the grand porches of the southern plantations some were actually made from bricks laid in a circular shape. Then they were plastered with concrete like material to be made round and smooth. Whitewashed or painted white they resemble the wooden ones.
My diversion from the Sepia Saturday original intent is a little broad this week but history is history. I enjoy watching the progression of the use of building materials in this country. When I find a brick buried in the ground I wonder it's age and where it is made.
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