Friday, June 1, 2012

Jane's Walk: Site 31

You may have thought that "Jane's Walk" was going to end in the cemetery, but no. A day late, it's returning to the streets of Hudson for a final look at the built environment. Back in the 1970s, the Friends of Cast Iron Architecture in New York City used to issue a card to its members with a strip of magnet on it so they could test if a building they thought might have a cast-iron facade really did. Today, "Jane's Walk" offers a different sort of test, to help determine the age of a building: Flemish bond.   

Flemish bond is a pattern of laying bricks in which headers (the short side of a brick facing out) and stretchers (the long side of the brick facing out) alternate in every row. 

Flemish bond fell out of fashion in about 1830, and because of this, its occurrence provides a clue to a building's age. If the bricks are laid in Flemish bond, it is usually an indication that the building was built before 1830. 

The brick pattern on this building in the 200 block of Warren Street is Flemish bond, providing evidence that the building dates from the earliest decades of the 19th century. Other features of the house support that assumption. 

The brick pattern of this house in the first block of Warren Street is also Flemish bond. This house was built in 1810, very likely by one of the sons of the Proprietors. 

But in Hudson there are two known exceptions (there may be others) to the Flemish bond rule--one prominent, the other obscure. The prominent exception is the post office, built in 1909, with brick laid up in the Flemish bond pattern.

The obscure exception is this house on the 200 block of Allen Street, built in 1867, which also--unusual for the period--has the brick laid in Flemish bond. 

The first occupant of this house was William Power. The house may have been built for him, and if so, he would certainly have had an influence on its design. Both the brickwork and the almost Moorish windows hint at someone with a flair for the unusual, and this notice, which appeared in the Daily Register on September 23, 1869, suggests that Power was such a man.


  1. Carole, do you know the age range for buildings built with American Common Bond brickwork? Thanks.

    1. "Common American bond, in which the bonding course of headers occurs once in every six (sometimes five, seven or even eight) courses, was used occasionally in the late 18th century and very commonly during the 19th century." from 'Introduction to Early American Masonry' by Harley J. McKee

  2. It is sad to see Jane's walk come to and end. I have looked forward to each entry and read them multiple times. As a newcomer to Hudson, it was History 101 for me! Thank you so much for the knowledge, time, and effort that has gone into this series. Your passion is a gift to all of your readers.
    Thank you Carole

  3. Brian--I'm afraid I'm really not an expert in brick patterns. I know when Flemish bond fell out of favor from an email exchange with Bill Krattinger at SHPO when we were trying to figure out the date of the house at 900 Columbia Street, which is another example in Hudson of Flemish bond.

    But Ward Hamilton reads and comments on this blog from time to time. Perhaps he will answer your question.

    1. Flemish Bond, sometimes called Dutch Bond, became popular in England during the 17th century and is occasionally found in colonial buildings built before 1700. A large number of early 18th century walls were built in English Bond (alternating courses of headers and stretchers) but after the middle of the century Flemish Bond became more popular and was used well into the 19th century. It is not uncommon to find English Bond used for the foundation and Flemish Bond above the water table in the same building, or Flemish Bond for the principal facade and English Bond elsewhere.

      Couple that with Hudson's proximity to Dutch settlement and influence on traditional trades in the Hudson Valley, and I think we are onto something. John Steven's essential tome 'Dutch Vernacular Architecture' cites the period of 1640-1830 in its subtitle. I wonder if there's a nexus to Bill Krattinger's 1830 date? Probably. And it would be an understandable homage to the style (and region's built heritage)for later structures to have brick facades in Dutch Bond.

  4. Your Jane [Jacobs'] walk was a terrific series. (And that last house is breathtaking!)

    Thanks for doing it.

  5. Wonderful series Carole !
    The Inn at Hudson (1905) is an over the top example of
    Flemish bond.

    I'm looking forward to the Carole's Walk (with William of course)

  6. Oh, and the carriage house behind the Inn is a rare example of English Bond.