Brick built

St. Louis immediately announces itself as a place of bricks.  The muted reddish earth tones of its residential construction give a consistent sense of what it is like to live in the city. 

Bricks and Busch Stadium

The 2006 Busch Stadium uses brick to underscore its connection to the St. Louis community.

Its brick walls echo what is recognized as the local vernacular architecture, while an elaborate brick paver program gives fans the chance to put a piece of themselves in the new stadium--in brick.

Other communities of comparable age are dominated by frame houses or by stucco or stone.  St. Louis's solid brick presence is ubiquitous, and a significant part of its impact and appeal.

Several factors led to St. Louis's brick atmosphere.  First was ready availability:  St. Louis was underlain by dozens of high-quality clay deposits.  Dogtown and the Hill were both neighborhoods shaped by immigrant groups who moved there to work the clay mines. 

By 1839, its brickyards were turning out better than 20 million bricks a year

Ortho's all about masonry basics
[editor, Larry Erickson].
Des Moines, IA : Meredith Books, c2000.
-- Through, expert descriptions of successful techniques for creating patios, walls, and walkways of brick, block, stone, and concrete.
Victorian brick and terra-cotta architecture in full color
edited by Pierre Chabat.
New York : Dover Publications, c1989.
This sumptuous book presents over 550 full-color illustrations of a distinctive architectural style that enlivened the cities and countryside of Europe in the Victorian era. It documents the ways in which that style incorporated imaginative brickwork and bright appliques of terra-cotta into its bold aesthetic. An invaluable source of full-color copyright-free designs for artists.
The forgotten art of building and using a brick bake oven : how to date, renovate or use an existing brick oven, or to construct a new one : a practical guide
by Richard M. Bacon.
Chambersburg, PA : Alan C. Hood & Co., Inc., c1977.
First published by Yankee Magazine in 1977, this book remains the authority on how old-time brick ovens were designed and used. The book explains the evolution of the brick oven from the 17th through the 19th centuries, out lines the basic points to consider in building such an oven today, and describes in detail construction of a brick oven, ash pit complex, including the tools required, procedures to be followed, types of brick and mortar, lintels and doors, plans, dimensions, and actual brickwork, graphically illustrated with photographs, diagrams and drawings. Also covered is how to heat and use such an oven, once built.
Richard M. Bacon has written numerous articles for such publications as Yankee Magazine and the Sunday New York times. He also wrote The Yankee Book of Forgotten Arts, Simon & Schuster, 1978.

In 1849, the steamboat White Cloud caught fire and drifted onto the riverfront wharves; a third of the city was destroyed in the subsequent blaze.  A hurriedly-passed local ordinance forbade the construction of wooden buildings, and St. Louis became even more predominantly brick.

That emphasis persists.  The deterioration of old neighborhoods has turned St. Louis into a reliable source for much-prized used building brick.  Local homeowners and designers have taken full advantage of old bricks with their cachet of age and history, while boxcar loads have been regularly shipped to those parts of the country that value carpenters over masons. 

In St. Louis, brick and home have remained practically synonymous.  The strength and stability of brick has been the foundation of choice on which St. Louisans have chosen to establish their homes.

Article by: St. Louis Public Library staff