Miss Pres Architectural Word of the Week: English Bond

AWOTW is back this week!  I had a word request from our very own E.L. Malvaney.

Sent along with this image was the following text:

Post Office Hazelhurst, Copiah County. Photo by EL Malvaney misspreservation.com

Entryway, Post Office Hazelhurst, Copiah County. Photo by EL Malvaney misspreservation.com

“To get the ball rolling again with requests for word of the week, Susasippi’s Hazelhurst Post Office article peaked my interest in English bond brick work.  Could you share with us a definition of English Bond?”

So I turned to my handy Audels Masons and Builders Guide #1 for an English Bond definition that likely dates from the first edition of this book printed in 1924.

English Bond: (ˈiŋ-glish ˈbänd) Usually called old English bond, the bond which is made by alternate courses of stretcher and headers, with a 2 inch piece or closer next to the corner header.

I thought the last part of the Audel definition included an interesting fact I had never thought about before, the “2 inch piece or closer next to the corner header.”  This part of the definition holds true for Malvaney’s example.

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Another example of English Bond is the poor old Stewart M. Jones School in Laurel.  I have not heard any news about this building since the 2009 fire.  Has anyone heard any news about this great place recently?  If you can look past the worst repointing job ever, this building’s closers differ from the “2 inch piece or closer” that the definition specifies.  Rather than being an individual 2 inch piece, the closer appears to be a stretcher cut down to the length of the header plus two inches.

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Have a brick building layed up in English Bond in your neck of Mississippi?  Upload a photo to the Misspreservation.com flickr page

Check out previous Misspres wotw here.



Categories: Hazlehurst, Laurel, Post Offices, Schools

4 replies

  1. I have run into the word “Topisaw” recently and can’t find a satisfactory definition or explanation as to what it is / was. Can you guys help. Seems to be a place(?) or stream close to McComb or Summit. Please help. Thanks

    Pat Conly

    Sent from my iPad

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    • I can’t say I’ve heard the word before. It does not appear in any of my architecture, construction or preservation related glossaries or dictionaries. Sorry I’m not much help. Do you have any more information on the word?

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  2. To share just how uneducated I am in the field of architecture, LOL, when I have seen bricks done this way, I always surmised the reason was conservation of bricks and that broken pieces were used on corners. I now realize just how dumb this supposition was. Now you see why I may be 70 but very much enjoy learning from your wonderful group. Again many thanks. You are never too old to learn!!!!

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    • Thank you I am glad you are both enjoying and learning from these posts! I do not think your supposition was dumb. I bet you are absolutely right that a thrifty mason would keep damaged brick for these closers rather than just discarding a damaged unit. While the definition does not state it, my understanding of the purpose of this “2 inch piece or closer” is to insure that all the mortar joints are staggered. Having joints lineup creates potential a weak spot in this solid masonry wall type and can also be visually unappealing.

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