General question about masonry methods circa 1870


Old 07-08-13, 03:32 PM
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General question about masonry methods circa 1870

Hello all, in the attachment below there is a piece of structural masonry cornice. This is from a home built around the 1870s and formed the structure where the turret met the house in this particular cornice. What is peculiar about this piece of stonework is that the top profiled molding along the top, itself a separate piece attached to the stone itself, spans the entire length of the stone. This stone piece was partially embedded in the brick of the house for the structure. Now why would the mason in 1870 bother adding that profiled molding to the ENTIRE stone piece when he could have just added it after the fact on the part of the stonework exposed to the exterior? It doesn't make sense to me to cut bricks around that profiled molding and embed it in brick when you can just embed the stone itself and later add the molding. Why did the mason of 1870 do more than what seems necessary? Considering half of that molding along with half of that stone block would be forever buried in brick? Thanks!
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Old 07-09-13, 03:27 AM
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Welcome to the forums Eric!

You have to remember back when it was built labor cost was minimal. I'm not a mason so I can't say for sure but I suspect it as done that way because it made everything stronger.
Old 07-12-13, 02:55 PM
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It could be one of a number of reasons.

By the latter part of the 19th century, continuous mouldings on blocks of stone would be cut not by hand but often by mechanical means, particularly in larger works. (Handwork would be used for return mouldings and special details, such as figurative carvings etc).
If the masonry works does not know the precise length of the moulding which will remain exposed, it would be easier just to run the moulding right along the blocks, and let the bricklayers work round it. Remember that when a moulding 'stops', a special (hand-done) detail would be applied to make an aesthetically pleasing finish to the moulding.

On the other hand, it may simply be that the design detailing changed between the blocks being cut, and fixed into position. Sometimes, the architect will not have determined precisely how the final detail is to be done until late in the day and to save time, they will have the blocks moulded and resolve the details later.
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