Brick by Brick

The intention of writing this post was to share the natural beauty of Vintage Bricks. Somehow the story evolved and seem to grow, brick by brick. Curiosity, thoughts and learning became the bricks—the foundation and information in building this post. Hopefully you will enjoy the building of this meandering story of Vintage Bricks—Brick by Brick!

The expansive range of color variations—light peach to red and every subtle nuance in between embrace the essence of warmth. There are even purple bricks—we will be on the look-out for those! The color is based upon the natural clay that is available to be used to make the bricks. At times, the method of baking the bricks, as well as the source of the fuel, such as wood or coal, which has been used to heat the ovens contributes to the end result and baked-color.

Color is just one of the fascinating elements of Vintage Bricks. These bricks are Re-Purposed and often there are visible remnants of the previous life of these salvaged bricks—aged mortar stains, chipping paint and tar from streets. Adding into the design mix are the names which have been molded into the bricks which creates a dimensional texture in a color-on-color pattern. As huge fans of Vintage Bricks, we have installed them in the interior of The Cottage and more recently, in the kitchen of The House at Rooster Ridge and subsequently outside Rooster Ridge in paths and patios—I found myself wondering;

“How old are these bricks anyway?”

The question continued to gnaw at me (Stop it! Go away thought—you know what this will lead to…) I wrestled with the curiosity of the age of these Vintage Bricks while I simultaneously desired to efficiently complete this post in a timely manner. My hand hovered over the cursor of my computer the little arrow inviting me to finish—and select the publish icon! 

“Clicking” on the blue rectangular icon, with its soft rounded corners and the word Publish neatly printed within its boundaries is the moment of knowing—I have completed my task… I wanted to experience that feeling, if only briefly, the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. I have achieved! (trumpets sound!)

I have come to learn—and I continue to work on—accepting the understanding that writing a blog is a task as ongoing and seemingly never-ending as some domestic chores—such as washing dishes or doing laundry. The moment, the very moment, you complete the job at hand, a sound emerges jolting you from your fleeting moment of revelry. A faint noise, the almost inaudible clink of a glass being placed in the sink or the whoosh of a towel falling into the hamper as the terry cloth replaces the space where air previously resided. And with that clink or whoosh—you hear the taunting translation in your mind;

“Not so fast missy, you’re not done!”

Despite my wish to complete the post as efficiently as possible—curiosity won—and I began at first glance what seemed to be a cursory research into the age of the bricks we had Re-Purposed. This brief glance resulted in a Monday post being posted on Wednesday. Curse you curiosity!

This brief stroll into the age of the bricks had led me to discover the historic journey of the brick making industry in New York along the Hudson River. The salvaged bricks we are fortunate to have as a mere design aspect of Rooster Ridge date back to the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. As I write this I feel an urge for a new collection being born—and yes, I did print out the 112 page Hudson River & New England Brick Collection and Identifier which I discovered while on my history lesson route.

I am starting to become aware—that for every item—there exists a collector or a collecting group for each category and that is—just lovely! Everything deserves the attention of a collection!

Our first very small experience with using Vintage Bricks required a mere 30 bricks during the renovation of The Cottage at Rooster Ridge. The symbolic hearth of the home or cottage in this case, seemed to request the warmth and charm of Vintage Bricks. In this small space the focus became all about the names which declared the brick-maker-company and as I am now learning the subsequent fascinating history of the brick-makers themselves.

In this initial search for such a small quantity we found ourselves in the back of a building of what at one time was the Cascadian Bottling Works in Grand View, New York—beautifully overlooking The Hudson River. Indeed the view was grand and the cohesiveness of the aptly named town emerged gloriously. A natural spring still travels down the cliffs of The Palisades spilling into a small, lovely pool of crisp, clear spring water. At the time the current owner of the building was selling Vintage Bricks by the piece. As we required such a small amount of we were afforded the opportunity to hand select them—Brick by Brick. It turned into a bit of a competitive scavenger hunt as our objective became to discover as many variations of names as possible. As we shouted out each new name discovered with glee, and at times, to regretfully hear the response, “Got it!” Thus the competition. In addition to lettered names of the brick-makers we also found symbols used to identify some of the companies.

On our Vintage Brick Hunt, unknowingly at the time, we were embarking upon a (delayed) fascinating glimpse into history. Note the triple circle symbol in the center brick.

Little did we know at the time our selection of Vintage Bricks with the name ROSE embedded upon them would turn out to have a wonderful history. This brickyard began in the 1890’s and at its peak sold 400 million bricks worldwide. Architects and builders recognized the superior quality of the Rose-made bricks. Rose Bricks were used in the Ansonia Hotel, The Customs House, The Empire State Building, The Stock Exchange and the Waldorf Astoria!

The symbol of the arrow represents The Arrow Brick Company which has a interesting history as well. I’ll stop myself from sharing.

During the renovation of The House at Rooster Ridge we were presented with the opportunity to replace the wood floor in the kitchen and introduce a new surface.

As we had experienced the enjoyment on our practice project we were ready to commit to a full brick floor in the kitchen of The House at Rooster Ridge. In this installation the names are turned in different directions to avoid a “right side” of viewing as well as creating an orchestrated haphazard pattern.

The Vintage Brick flooring delineates the kitchen area whereas previously the wood flooring blended in with the other rooms. We like this sectioned feeling creating a homey and warm kitchen aura.

We’ve yet to discover a brick with a rooster molded into it, however, on our first hand selection Brick by Brick journey we did find one brick stamped with a—heart. Look closely, middle brick!

And so it rests symbolically at the heart of the home—the hearth—where food is transformed into meals and warmth is always available.

Just as the Vintage Bricks have, this post truly came together, day by day and Brick by Brick.

Symbolism Abounds!