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Sunday, January 19, 2014

SO WHAT'S UP WITH OLD BUILDING TILES





Alleyway.  Camas, Washington --  two-story exterior tile wall 

Hollow building tiles were used in this country from the late 1800s on through the early 1950s. What few tile structures we see today are left from that time period. As a result we are seeing less and less of them as our built environment undergoes scraping of old buildings for other uses such as strip malls and housing subdivisions.

In the photo above is a shot of a building exterior using hollow brick tiles. The wall is in excellent shape even though it is anywhere from sixty to a hundred years old.

The tiles were durable and displayed a fine earthy patina. Several U.S. companies manufactured them -- see below ad for NATCO HOLLOW TILE.



Source: Wikipedia

The tiles were popular building materials in both housing and commercial structures during the early twentieth century or late nineteenth century. Perhaps you might even live in one today or know of a building in your town that is built with them. 

If you have some interest in this early trade check out this book online from the JSTOR archives. Fun to page through their entire book here titled History of Structural Hollow Clay Tile in the United States. 



8 comments:

  1. We have a variety of building materials here in my small town. I always like to see older structures kept intact. Nothing like history and keeping it for future generations.

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    1. Michelle -- You live in a very special area that has kept much of its vintage building stock. I really enjoy reading your posts as they are full of the beautiful architecture of your area. -- barbara

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  2. I like the fences that I still occasionally see made of those bricks. It is a shame that they can be saved and restored. I like them!

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    1. Birdie -- Oh, I would like to see some of those types of fences too. I will have to keep a lookout for them. thanks -- barbara

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  3. Hmmm, I have just always taken for granted that if it looked like bricks it is bricks and not realized they may be tiles. There is so much brick here in Portland but I don't know how you tell if it is brick or tile.

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    1. Rubye -- Think glazed flower pots. Similar material. Bricks are quite smaller than the tile bricks. They really are quite lovely if you like earthy looking materials -- thanks barbara

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  4. I have pieces of water worn hollow brick that I picked up on Spanish beaches.

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    1. Hattie -- I understand that brick tiles were used in Europe before they became popular here although they were only used for a short time compared to the timeline of actual fired building bricks. I imagine your pieces have a lovely patina. thanks -- barbara

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