Mid-Week Mid-Century: In Praise of Masonry Screens

I’ve pretty much fallen in love with masonry screens since I first started noticing them a few years ago. Most popular in the 1950s through 1970s, these decorative concrete block are a low-cost way to create a wall, provide privacy and shade to a big window wall, and generally just look stylish. The sun plays games with the varied shapes throughout the day, making for hours of viewing fun.

Here are a few examples just in the Jackson area of the great variety and inventive uses for these wonderful mid-century modern materials.

We’ve got nothing on Jamaica though, where they use all sorts of block shapes, usually as part of the low wall that runs along most front property lines. The Catholic church in Falmouth even uses them as the upper part of the exterior wall of the building, with no glass, allowing complete natural ventilation of the interior.

St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church, Falmouth, Jamaica (1966)

As the Modern Charlotte (NC) blog points out, these blocks are still available, so damaged walls can be fixed, not destroyed (as I sometimes see during renovation projects). Check out this catalog of the A-1 Block Corporation, of Orlando, Florida or this longer list of companies still making these cool blocks. Head out into your town and start noticing the blocks–it won’t take you long and then you’ll start seeing them everywhere. If some of us find a way to use the block in new projects, we might just bring masonry screens back into fashion!

This post is a throwback to September, 2012.  You can read the post as it originally appeared here. Other MissPres masonry screen posts you might find interesting are Friday Fun: Concrete Block Bingo Sheet and Village Apartments: Mid-century surviving on Ole Miss campus. Does anyone have an update on the status of the village apartments? The comments suggest that they are on a University demo list?

If you have your own Mississippi masonry screen you’d like to share consider uploading the images to the MissPres Flickr page! https://www.flickr.com/groups/misspreservation/

Categories: Architectural Research, Asides, Cool Old Places, Jackson, Modernism, Recent Past, Universities/Colleges


4 replies

  1. This is a honey of a post—delightful! Thanks!


  2. The Village Apartments are still there as of now, but I think they and Kincannon Hall are on the demo list.


  3. I love this post! I always stop to admire breeze block, there are so many great patterns.


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