The Beauty of Brick In The Restoration of Rocky Mount – Main Street and Beyond

“Architecture has its own realm. It has a special physical relationship with life… a sensitive container for the rhythm of footsteps on the floor, for the concentration of work, for the silence of sleep.”
Peter Zumthor, Thinking Architecture

The beautifully restored building on Washington Street. This photo was taken when it was the Washington Street Grill

I think of the rustic charm of exposed brickwork in buildings as art. The colors and textures of exposed masonry add a unique character to any structure. If you have not had the pleasure of placing your hand on a brick wall, next time one calls to you, do it!  A quick story about touching: My youngest son by misdeed was asked to stay home from school a day. It was an opportunity to take him downtown to the Chicago Art Institute where the famous lion sculptures stand guard. He wanted to touch whatever he looked at. (He comes by that rightly, I’m a toucher.) More than once the museum guide in a gallery cleared his throat as a warning, don’t touch. What was to be a day of punishment was far better spent on Michigan Avenue in the midst of glorious architecture. All these years later, I touch brick walls, and that grown son has a son of his own who both touch my heart.

 I can never resist telling a story, but some information too. A brick is building material used to make walls, pavements, and other elements in masonry construction. Traditionally, the term brick referred to a unit composed of clay, but it is now used to denote rectangular units made of clay-bearing soil, sand, and lime, or concrete materials. Bricks can be joined together using mortar, adhesives, or by interlocking them. Bricks are produced in numerous classes, types, materials, and sizes which vary with region and time period, and are produced in bulk quantities. Two basic categories of bricks are fired and non-fired bricks.

 

A lovely brick arch left intact in an ‘above the store’ flat in New Bern.

Bricks were made by hand until about 1885. Once the Industrial Revolution broke out, the brickmaking machinery was introduced. Consequently, the number of clays that could be made into brick was greatly increased which influenced the production capacity. Handmade brick production ranged up to 36,000 bricks per week but by 1925 a brickmaking machine made 12,000 bricks a day

The beautiful brick walls in the restored train station in Rocky Mount

A great example of leaving exposed brick in a restoration. Imperial Center.

Amazing interior brick at the Imperial Center restoration.

The interior brick at the Imperial Center restoration. Looking beyond to more beautiful brick walls.

The Imperial Center Restoration

The exterior brick at the restored Rocky Mount Bus Stations

Going up now: Approved brick for rebuilding the back of two Howard Street buildings.

The restoration of a Howard Street building using beautiful brick.

 

Exposed brick is a piece of art to behold.

Exposed brick with a crack running through is like a self-portrait on any given day.

We use our hands for a loving touch, a moment of comfort, in prayer. Why not touch a brick wall in honor of the workman, the results, the enduring quality of what still stands. A silly thing I know, until you remember when someone has taken your hand in comfort or in love. Let us place our hands on this old brick in appreciation for its past and  new future.

About Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin

Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin grew up in Evanston, IL. and is a graduate of the University of Kentucky. She is an author of two novels: The Greening of a Heart and Facing East. She lives, writes and gardens in NC. Visit her: Stephenyhoughtlin.com
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4 Responses to The Beauty of Brick In The Restoration of Rocky Mount – Main Street and Beyond

  1. tomabetts@gmail.com says:

    Really good!

    Thank you

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Like

  2. Marion Weathers says:

    Did you know there there were ‘interior brick’ and ‘exterior brick” when the Imperial Centre was built? The walls in the open courtyard between the Buck Leonard Exhibit and the Science Center were originally interior walls. The brick there is ‘interior brick’. Prolonged exposure to the elements is not what it was designed to tolerate, and it is deteriorating. Unless this area is restored to again be an interior space, those walls will be lost, (and those are walls to the science center!)

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    • Thank you for adding this bit of information/caution. Of course, now you have sent me off on another research adventure to find out what is being done in other places to preserve and protect. Some way to seal the brick? I write about architectural gems and declare that in the Rocky Mount world of artists and their art, YOU, Marion Weathers, are a gem as well.

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