Welcome to CIRCA School, in which Amanda Davis uncovers the fascinating facts behind everyone’s favorite old house details. Today’s lesson: Flemish bond!
Oh, I just LOVE old brick houses. So much detail and variation can be had with such a simple shape as a rectangular brick. One of my absolute favorite treatments is Flemish bond. Like a checkerboard spread across walls, this brick pattern gets its elegant look by alternating stretchers (the long side of the brick) with headers (the short side) on each and every row.
It’s mighty pretty, indeed, but did you know that Flemish bond was as much a status symbol back in the day as fancy clothes and fine china?
Popping up sporadically in America in the early 17th century, Flemish bond gained in popularity in the colonial period and stuck around until the 1840s or so. I’ve always found it neat that this bond provided a visual clue as to who owned the house. How so? Placing brick in this way was time-consuming and took great skill to get just right. That cost money, so Flemish bond became a status symbol to let all visitors know, even before they entered the house, that they were dealing with someone who could afford all of life’s splendors.
Live in a house laid in Flemish bond? Well, raise a glass because you’ve gone and landed brick house royalty!
AUTHOR AMANDA DAVIS
Amanda is an historic preservationist living in New York City with a particular fondness for fixer-uppers. She can be spotted checking out quirky historic details here, there, and everywhere in her handmade dresses. Every time Amanda sees a cozy room with large windows and beautiful built-ins she can’t help but imagine her very own sewing nook with oldies music playing in the background.