Drum Roll Please . . .
This is the first MissPres Word of the Week for 2013 and among other improvements, we are taking requests. So If you’ve been eying an element or technique on a Mississippi building snap a photo of an example (if you can send multiple examples that is very helpful) and drop me a line. To get the ball rolling, E.L. Malvaney submitted the inaugural request. Malvaney emailed along the photo below saying,
“…working on catching up on my photo organization, and found this picture of a corner on Murrah Hall at Millsaps. Don’t know the term for it although I probably should…”
According to Cyril M Harris and his Dictionary of Architecture and Construction, the above is a Pigeonhole Corner.
Pigeonhole Corner: (ˈpi-jən-ˌhōl ˈkȯr-nər) An acute angle formed in a brick wall, using square-ended bricks that have not been shaped.
I looked for other examples in my photos and ran across several brick structures in Natchez that utilized a Pigeonhole Corner. The examples I found were higher style Queen Anne structures dating from 1890 to 1902, which are a little bit earlier than the 1914 construction date of our Beaux Arts Murrah Hall example. The best use of the Pigeonhole Corner in the Natchez bunch was the old Adams County Jail. Built in 1891 it uses a Pigeonhole Corner on some, but not all, of its corners as a decorative element.
In Theo Audels 1924 Masons and Builders Guide No.1 it says that Pigeonhole Corners are “only used in cheap work and should not be tolerated for it leaves ledges for the lodgement of snow and dirt, decreases the thickness of the wall and besides is rather unsightly… with result that the brickwork rapidly deteriorates and more over is unsightly.“
Do you think it’s unsightly Mr. Audel? I think you mentioned that.
Well Mr. Audel, from a maintenance standpoint I sympathize with the created nightmare of crevices for dirt, water, and animals to congregate. But I disagree that Pigeonhole Corners would only be used in cheap work and are unsightly. It’s obvious that a cost savings is made by not having to purchase specially shaped brick or spend on masons to cut bricks on site, though both our examples are fine, high-style buildings that use the element as a focal point. I don’t think the quality is decreased as I’ve never heard that anyone broke out of the Adams County Jail through the corners.
Have you got a favorite Pigeonhole Corner on a structure in Mississippi? Then share it with us! If you run across a Pigeonhole Corner this week take a photo and up load it to the Preservation In Mississippi Flickr page.