Concrete Block Structures of Biloxi (Part II)

Last time all the buildings featured one type of block face.  Today the two buildings we will look at feature two or more types of block.

By the turn of the 20th century a block machine that could make a different block face simply by changing the faceplate is common place.

“The faceplates may be made of any design and are interchangeable, so that a block of any desired ornamental face may be made”

~1907 patent for a concrete block machine.

Lameuse Cottage

Built some time between 1909 and 1914 this handsome cottage on Lameuse Street makes use of two types of block.  The blocks are standard size with a face that is approximately 8″ x 16″.   A rock face block was used for the quoining and a continuous lintel, and a bush-hammered face for the majority of the wall plains.  While the brick skirt may not be original, the building still shows the visual beauty that concrete block can add to a structure.

Bowen House

A well-appointed house, the Bowen House showcases the flexibility in designs of concrete block.  According to the city of Biloxi plaque this house was built c. 1900, but does not show up on any Sanborn map till 1914.   It utilizes a cornucopia of block types and other cast concrete features such as balustrade and columns, all set in a wonderful raised bead mortar joint.  I believe I counted a whopping seven different 8”x 16” block faces plus several different size block.  These seven include: Rock Face, Standard Plain Face, Rusticated Face, Cobblestone Face, a variation on the cobblestone block depicting elongated stones, a bizarre block featuring fractal lines and dashes, and an attempt at a vermiculated face.  A 8”x 32″ block depicting an eight petal flower with stem, four seed pods and two leaves, is used as a belt course several places around the building.  The Cobblestone Face, the variation on the Cobblestone Face, the bizarre block featuring fractal lines and dashes, and the attempt at a Vermiculated Face seem to be after thoughts and only occur on the west-facing two-story bay.  (I apologize for the odd posting of photographs.  I am still learning WordPress).

24″ x 8″ Belt Course Flower Block

Click here to read part one.

Categories: Architectural Research, Biloxi, Gulf Coast, Historic Preservation

10 replies

  1. Since you’ve posted on this block I’ve noticed it in several places on the coast, one in Long Beach, and the entirety of the block fence surrounding the St. Stanislaus football field. Will try and post some photos soon.


    • Decorative concrete block is one of those materials that you don’t notice until you start looking for it and then you see it every where. I would enjoy seeing the photos you post. I’ve walked the Stanislaus wall several times. I would be interested in seeing some historic photos of the wall when it was new. Where in Long Beach have you seen the block?


  2. Am looking for a michine that will make 8×30 blocks we think it is a palmer machine, any ideas where to look? Thanks!


    • Block machines of that era are incredibly rare. I have never seen one myself, and have never had any luck locating a block machine. For projects where I needed a few blocks I’ve made my own block mold. Make a mold of the decorative block face using a latex brush on mold and make a wooden form for the block and attach that mold of the block face inside the wooden form.


  3. We still manufacture this block! Take a look at our selection at!


  4. We still use our original plates from our 1941 Miles block machine today! Check out our web site


  5. This is my ancestral family home!! My great-grandfather was Louis Bowen. My grandmother grew up here, as did my father. My mother lived here with my grandparents while waiting to deploy to Japan to be with my grandparents. Thanks for sharing this! I loved it and shared it with my family. :)


  6. I have a few old machines that I restored and make these old Rockface block to help people restore old homes. If you search Rockface block on you tube, you can see how I make them. I go by Block maker. I make videos to show people how these old machines work. I find them fascinating and love showing how they all work. I know where several of these machines are but no one will sell them so I ask if I could make a video of there machine while showing them how to use it. I work in the industry and think block are still a great building product that last a very long time!


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