No matter what the age of your house, if you buy one that has had several different owners recently, there is a high probability that you have landscaping and/or garden beds to tame, shape up, change, and what-not. I live in an 1893 Victorian house in Walnut Hills that has changed hands twice over the last 10 years. The backyard became just a little overgrown during this process. This year’s project: Euonymus Taming. The stuff can be rather prolific.
Poking around in the backyard of an historic home with a shovel, you might encounter artifacts dating to the early years of the home. Depending on the home’s age, you might even find an old well, cistern, or privy, which could have been filled in with historic period trash.
However, aside from a couple of marbles, dog toys, plastic Easter eggs (treats still inside!), nails, undecorated whiteware pottery, and an empty “40”, not much has turned up during my yard duty until this year.
Archaeologists have a saying that “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. They study past human cultures and societies and it just so happens that one of the best ways to do that is to dig up worthless items discarded long ago. Interestingly, what I found could have been collected as trash at demolition sites, brought to my home as treasure, and left behind for me to find in the garden bed. Yep, I found bricks. Here are the highlights:
A Tiffany enameled brick made by the Tiffany Brick Works in Momence, Illinois. The back and sides of the brick have residual enamel. The Tiffany Brick Works began in 1884 and was in business until the Great Depression.
Early White Castle restaurants are notable for the use of this brick. White Castle was started in 1921 and the first White Castle opened in Cincinnati in 1927.
A Peebles Block paving brick. Living not far from historic Peebles Corner (Walnut Hills’ historic commercial center at the intersection of Gilbert and McMillan), I first though “Neat! Did Peebles Corner have signature pavers too?”
Alas, this brick was made by the Peebles Paving Brick Company in Portsmouth, Ohio–although still an interesting choice of brick to collect and keep considering the significance of the name “Peebles” to the neighborhood.
A Tiger Steel brick. This one, I have heard, was manufactured in Cincinnati, but–without doing more research–unfortunately, I have little else to say.
Likewise for the brick fragment marked with ‘Mt Health”–most likely for Mt. Healthy, founded in 1817, incorporated in 1951, and now a suburb of Cincinnati.
And finally, an “Ohio” brick. Although I know nothing more about this particular specimen, it nonetheless adds to the specialness of my new-found brick collection. And, you never know, I might find more bricks out there, spring has only just arrived!