Page images


by capillarity. Its use is not frequent, however, being largely limited to war-ships.

Exterior Finishes.- The artistic effect of a building depends more upon its color than upon its form either in general lines or detail. This is due to the fact that a good color sense is commoner than an appreciation of line and form. So true is this that many excellent designs have been utterly ruined by execution in unpleasing materials, and many meretricious designs receive public commendation entirely due to their satisfactory color effect. The search for novel and beautiful, as well as durable effects, has led to a great multiplication and improvement of materials.

Of all exterior materials the granites easily hold first place for buildings requiring dignity and durability. The finer granites come from New England, and range from various tones of white, through the deepening grays, into the dark reds, greens, and blacks. Many of the granites present beautiful surfaces when polished, and in general combine well in color scheme with almost any other material. The southern granites, so called, are not truly granites in the geological sense. They lack warmth and brilliancy of color, and by reason of their softness stain easily in a harsh climate or smoky atmosphere.

Sandstones, such as those from Ohio, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts, are reliable materials, the particles being well cemented together. They vary in color from the whites to the browns, and have practically superseded the Connecticut brown-stone used extensively in the 'sixties and 'seventies, but whose loose stratification resulted in early deterioration upon exposure.

Of the limestones, that from Indiana has had great popularity by reason of its softness for cutting when fresh, the large sizes in which it is obtainable, and, in the buff varieties, its beautiful color. The stone hardens upon exposure to the air, but its color changes, improving for a year or two, to become almost black after a period of 7 to 10 years.

The white marbles of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Georgia are thoroughly reliable, but discolor without assuming the soft warm tones of the old marble structures of Greece and Italy.

Gneisses abound throughout the Eastern States, some of them approaching very closely in texture to the true granites..

For durability and permanency of color, combined with economy, no exterior facing can surpass natural red brick. The appreciation of red brick has fortunately developed beyond the point where the smooth Philadelphia pressed variety is considered the only brick desirable for the finest work, so that we now have reds toning into the browns and purples, and combined often with dark headers, from which it is possible to lay up a simple surface full of artistic interest. Outside the plain red, there is a wide variety of brick within certain limits; whites, buffs, browns, or grays are easily obtainable both in the plain colors and mottled, and made by either the wet or the dry process. Color, width, and style of mortar joints, if used knowingly, can be made to intensify or soften the natural color of the brick. American enameled brick holds its own with the English, and is invaluable for light-shafts and damp places.

Nearly all makes, however, craze or chip in time.

Architectural terra-cotta, as an exterior finish, easily claims first rank in point of development. Many steel structures are covered entirely with it, excepting perhaps parts near the ground, subject to abrasion. It can be made in almost any color by means of "slips" or "glazes," and it lends itself readily to decoration. The use of terra-cotta is of advantage to the architect, in that he can see the models for every part of the work as they are in process, and vary them to his satisfaction before they are finally cast. Economy in the use of terra-cotta comes chiefly from minimizing the number of molds; but this must be guarded against, for, if pushed to excess, monotony is likely to result.

Ornamental bronze, copper, and iron work, through improved processes of manipulation, have added greatly to the possible richness of exterior effect.

Outside enclosures of sheet metal, such as iron or aluminum, are rarely aesthetic. Corrugated sheet iron has been used extensively for freight sheds, wharf enclosures, and similar ordinary constructions, where no effort for good looks has been made. The enclosure of steel-skeleton buildings with metal is not to be counted upon where such buildings are tenanted, as it is too great a conductor of heat.

Rough-cast and plaster work are most admirable and sympathetic as exterior wall finishes, where the extremes of temperature from winter to summer are not too great. Even adobe structures are possible in the South and West, but their use is most limited. Rough-cast or pebble-dash is applied to both masonry walls and lath; it is more durable on masonry, as the expansion and shrinkage of lath tend to disintegrate the mortar. Rough-cast is combined frequently with timber work in imitation of the old English half-timber constructions, and is specially adapted to domestic buildings of the freer country sort.

Concrete walls, where of the right texture and color, such as that made from coquina in Florida, give a pleasing effect.

Roof coverings comprise tin, copper, slag, tiles, slate, and shingles, each having its own appropriateness. Copper is the only permanent one of those mentioned, and slag is the next best. Tiles and slate require constant repairs, and shingles rarely last more than 20 years. Shingles lend themselves admirably to staining, and are deservedly popular. Thatch is attempted where picturesqueness is demanded.

A roof interesting from the constructive standpoint is that commonly used on the steelskeleton building. It is known as actinolite, and consists of a number of thicknesses of heavy felts bedded upon a smooth Portland-cement surface, and covered with a roofing cement on which are laid vitrified tiles with the joints. thoroughly filled, practically forming a pavement.

Interior Finishes.- For ordinary buildings the interior finish of floors, walls, and ceilings must necessarily be simple, consisting of cement or wood for the floors, and plaster for the walls and ceilings, except that in the case of mill construction walls are usually made of hard red brick, pointed inside the same as outside, and


ceilings consist of the dressed undersurface of the floor planking white-washed, painted, or varnished.

Cement floors are the most permanent, particularly where they are subjected to moisture, although the hard pine and maple flooring commonly used is less tiresome to walk on and is sufficiently durable.

The so-called patent plasters have come largely into use by reason of their hardness and quick-setting quality. They are mixed by by machine in fixed proportions, and are therefore more dependable in quality than the ordinary lime mortar. If applied to lath, the patent plasters require that the lath, if of wood, shall be wet before application, or, if of metal, that the metal be of heavy threads, as the finer wire cloth is sometimes eaten away by the ingredients of the plaster.

Tiles, whether of marble, ceramic, or glass, form excellent interior finishes, except that small tiles for floors are likely to loosen, and frequent joints in tiling become unsightly through discoloration. The glass tile known as "opalite" produces a finish similar to enameled brick, and has been shown in some cases to be more lasting. Interlocking rubber tiles are desirable in cases where there is risk of slipping, such as for elevator floors. They are also good deadeners of sound.

Beautiful effects of mosaic, both of marble and of glass, are easily obtainable-a great variety of color and design is largely in their favor. All of these applied finishes require a solid base, preferably of masonry or concrete.

The variety of woods for interior finish is almost without limit, and has been greatly increased by staining and by methods of finish.


In no department of interior ornamentation has greater progress been made than in plaster work a system which can be pushed to almost any point of elaboration, and which lends itself perfectly to painted decoration. In fact, there are few materials that cannot be simulated in plaster if the decoration is clever.

The field of interior decoration was never wider, and the knowledge of the application of leathers, stamped, modeled, and woven fabrics, and the thousand and one other forms of wall applications, never better understood.

In marble for interior use America is not particularly fortunate. Granite and limestone produce satisfactory results, but most of the American marbles are cold and lacking in richness of texture. Among the best marbles are the Knoxville Gray, and a few of the whites. For the more beautiful effects recourse must be had to the imported marbles, such as Sienna, Numidian, Pavonnezza, Alps Green, and others. EDGAR V. SEELER, Architect. Building and Loan Associations, co-operative organizations, originally designed to aid their members in procuring homes, at the lowest cost, and on the easiest terms. Later developments gave them some of the functions of a bank for savings. The associations are a development, dating from about 1835, when a few experimental ones existed in the United States, the movement beginning in Pennsylvania. The original associations proving successful, plans were gradually improved, until by 1850 they became an established part of American institu

tions. They have been operated under various titles, besides the above, as mutual loan associations, home assistance associations, co-operative savings and loan associations, and cooperative banks, the latter title being popular in New England.

The basic plan of these associations is the issuing of stock, which is paid for in monthly instalments, and the loaning of the money thus raised to shareholders, borrowers paying twice as much per month as lenders. It has been common to give the shares a maturing value of $200 each, on which the holders pay $1 per month as long as they are lenders or investors, and $2 per month, as soon as they become borrowers on their stock. In addition to the $2, the borrower is also liable to have to pay a premium to secure his loan, when there are more shareholders seeking loans than there is money to loan.

Under such an arrangement an association received an average of $1.50 per month per share, and in the course of a little more than 11 years this was theoretically sufficient to bring the shares to par value. In practice, the shares would sometimes run out in 10 years, if premiums on loans ran high, and sometimes 12 or more years were required for shares to reach the $200 value, if the association had passed through hard times. When the shares reached the $200, or other maturing value, the lenders received their money back, and the borrowers had their loans canceled. Under the early plans, the maturing of the shares wound up the association. This was a hardship to many, and as a result the issuing of shares in annual series has become common. This enables outsiders to come in and take shares any time a new series is opened, or to purchase the most recent series, by paying the dues for the number of months such series has run.

The legislatures of the various States have made laws rendering easy the forming of these associations, because they have proven to be a good means of enabling wage workers to build and own their own homes. The parties interested manage their own affairs, and as the money is loaned out as fast as it comes in, there is seldom any loss by peculation. To illustrate how these associations assist a man of small means to build and pay for a home, let us follow the system from his point of view. Suppose he has a lot of land, for which he has paid $400. He can subscribe for five shares of an association, of the par value of $200 each, paying therefor $5 per month. Every month, or every few months, there will be money to be loaned, and he attends the meetings, and when he thinks the premiums are low, he bids in a $1,000 loan. If he has bid 10 cents premium on this, he must pay $2.10 each month on his shares, from the time he receives the use of the money. As a matter of fact he does not handle the money, but having bid successfully, and the directors having passed upon his lot and proposed house as a safe loan, he sets a builder to work, and his house is put up, the association taking a mortgage on it for $1,000, and the builder collecting his $1,000 from the association. Every month he pays his $10.50 into the association, just as if he were paying rent, and in 10 or 11 years the shares mature, and the home is paid for.

The plan appeals to the wage worker, because of the easy payments. It appeals to small lenders, because it affords them a sort of savings

[merged small][ocr errors]


materials, however essential to artistic effect or to comfort and convenience such things are. Decorations in oil and water colors on walls and ceilings, hangings of paper, leather, and other materials, electric-lighting, steam-heating, and even the elevator, without which the modern high building would be Impracticable, are among these.

The height to which many buildings are carried indicates the greatest advance in the art of construction, for such edifices represent principles untried 20 years ago, and have for their basis the use of iron or steel for the support of the floors, instead of masonry, reducing the walls to a mere enclosure for keeping out inclement weather, and for protecting the ironwork incased in them from damage by fire. Twenty-five years ago a six-story building was considered very high; but passenger-elevators came into use, adding value to the upper stories. Ten- and eleven-story edifices followed. With solid masonry the thickness of a wall is regulated by its height, tapering by stories from the bottom to the top. Under this method the great thickness of the lower portions of the walls occupied the most valuable space for rentals, and with a height of 10 or II stories the greatest practicable limit seemed to be reached. No more of the area of a valuable lot could be given up to the occupancy of brick walls. Suddenly and simultaneously a number of architects and engineers grasped the idea that metal columns could be carried up to any desired height, havand the requisite amount of masonry as an outing girders between on which to carry the floors side protection. Thus an edifice could be elevated to the clouds, and irrespective of height, take up far less of the area of a lot than would be required by the old-fashioned method of solid brick walls. Fifteen, twenty, and twentyfive story buildings quickly followed, and it is

conceded that structures 500 feet high, or of any height, can be safely erected on this plan.

The use of a framework, or, as it is generally termed, a skeleton, of iron or steel, with curtain walls supported on girders placed between the columns, the latter and the girders carrying the floors in addition, is an American novelty, notwithstanding it has for its immediate prototype the cast-iron fronts with column standing upon column. The first cast-iron front ever erected in the world was put up in New York in 1848; yet that was but a repetition of iron columns and lintels long previously used as a substitute for stone and brick to the extent of a single story. The skeleton, as used in the lofty buildings, is simply an evolution or expansion of the principle contained in the familiar cast-iron fronts, and in the oft-used method of increasing the bearing strength of a brick pier of too small an area safely to bear alone the load to be imposed, by placing an iron column in the centre of the pier.

Obviously it is to the interest of an owner, as well as necessary for public safety, that an excessively high building shall be so constructed that in the event of fire the building itself shall not be seriously damaged, nor shall it imperil the safety of surrounding buildings. Laws regulating the construction of buildings in New York require all structures above a stated height to be built fire-proof; that is to say, they must be constructed with walls of brick, stone, or iron, the floors and roofs of materials similar to the

bank, and encourages systematic savings. Small tradesmen and merchants are almost as apt to become interested in such associations as are those who work for a weekly wage, and the economical methods by which a large amount of money is borrowed and loaned safely have attracted many to the associations as being a safe depository, and sure to pay 6 per cent dividends. Originally, these associations were usually confined to a town or locality, no loans being made beyond the territory where most of the members lived and knew the value of the property. But within recent years both State and national associations have been organized, which do business anywhere within the limits of their larger territory.

The management of an association is usually lodged in a board of directors elected annually from the shareholders, and whose members serve without pay. They pass upon the loans, and having investments of their own to protect, closely guard the association treasury. The secretary is customarily the only salaried officer, and is often paid for doing the detail work by a system of small fees. Sometimes the fines levied on delinquents are his sole compensation. Each association makes minor laws of its own, and many vary the plan as above given in numerous details; but the general principles here outlined are the same with all. There are now many thousands of these associations in the United States, doing a present business approximating $600,000,000.

Building Lease, a lease of land for a long term of years, usually 99 years, at a rent called a ground-rent, the lessee covenanting to erect certain edifices thereon, and to maintain the same during the term. At the expiration of the lease the houses built become the absolute property of the landlord, unless otherwise pro

vided in the contract. See LEASE.

Building Materials. The improvement in the art of building indicated by the variety of building materials, in iron, stone, clay, and wood; the machinery for their production; the skill with which these materials are used singly and in combination; the appliances for rapid construction; the devices for the conveniences and comfort of the occupants of buildings; and the artistic treatment of the interior and exterior of edifices, is self-evident to any person who compares the structures erected within the past few years with those put up less than a quarter of a century ago. These improvements in the art and science of building may be said to have been achieved within the business period of a single liftime, without going back to the time when brick, stone, iron, and wood were worked into shape by laborious processes, afterward being used in the most commonplace manner, and when almost everything in which artistic effect was sought had to be imported from Europe, or the skilled labor to produce it had to be specially brought from the old countries. There are still standing in the lower sections of the city of New York dwelling-houses erected a century ago, old office buildings proudly named after owners who have passed away in the natural course of events, and old hotels that were once looked upon as marvels in their way. And yet many things that appeal to the eye and receive admiration as component parts of new buildings cannot strictly be classed as building Vol. 3-29

walls, and the stairs also must be of incombustible materials. Fire-proof floors are now commonly constructed of rolled iron or steel I-beams. The first wrought-iron I beams rolled in this country were made by Peter Cooper, at his mills in Trenton, N. J., about 1860. The Phonix Iron Company, of Pennsylvania, began to roll them about the same time. Prior to that date there was a very limited number of fireproof buildings in this country. Those which did exist, chiefly belonged to the government. In the early fire-proof structures erected in New York-the Cooper Union building, Harper's publishing building, and the Historical Library building the iron floor-beams are of a shape known as deck-beams, being very similar in section to an ordinary rail, only deeper. The depths of I-beams have been increased from 6 and 7 inches up to 24 inches, and mild steel has displaced wrought-iron. Eastern and western rolling-mills yearly turn out an enormous quantity of rolled steel I-beams for use in buildings. Before the time when rolled beams could be expeditiously procured and at moderate prices, cast-iron beams were used. When the openings to be spanned were of considerable width, bowstring-girders, or arch-shaped castings with horizontal wrought-iron tie-rods connecting the ends, were commonly used. It is admitted by all who are competent to judge that wrought-iron or steel is superior for use where the load tends to tear the metal asunder; and in course of time cast-iron for beams and girders became almost entirely superseded by rolled wrought-iron, and later on by rolled steel. use of cast-iron beams, lintels, and columns in commercial buildings kept a number of large foundries in New York busy for many years. More than half a century ago the Jackson Architectural Iron Works, now a corporation, were started, being practically the pioneer foundry for the manufacture of iron work for buildings. It was in these works that the first entire iron front was made, from drawings furnished by the introducer, James Bogardus. Several firms that became quite renowned in the line of architectural ironwork - among them J. B. & W. W. Corneli — procured their cast-iron work for many years from the Jackson foundry. Iron fronts became popular and New York supplied the demand from Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, and St. Louis, until finally their manufacture was taken up in every section of the country. During the later years architects have shown a preference for fronts of brick with terra-cotta or stone for trimmings, and cast-iron fronts have largely gone out of fashion, perhaps later on to be revived, particularly for commercial structures, as cast-iron has in its favor unequaled advantages of lightness, strength, durability, economy, incombustibility, and ready renovation. John Roach, who became celebrated as an iron ship-builder, started in the foundry business in a small way in New York about the year 1840, making castings for builders' uses; but he veered off into ships' castings and machinery, and finally into building ships.


The Jackson foundry was started to manufacture grates and fenders, and during all the years of its existence has continued that as one of its principal branches. It was the establishment of a new industry in this country, for these things were all imported from abroad. While fireplace fronts can scarcely be included


among "building materials," in the ordinary understanding of that term, yet they go to make up a permanent and necessary part of buildings. There are a number of other adjuncts to an edifice that cannot be included as building materials, but each of which makes progressive steps in providing useful, convenient, and comfortable structures. In a modern building electric light and steam-heat are looked for as matters of course; and mail-chutes, telephone, and electric call service are developments of recent years. In dwelling-houses gas-stoves are supplanting coal ranges for cooking; the oldfashioned pan water-closet has given way to the S trap-bowl; bath-tubs are of enameled iron, solid porcelain, or marble, instead of wood lined with copper or other metal; pneumatic or electric appliances open the street door at will; locks that are unpickable and burglar alarms secure reasonable safety from would-be intruders; and in a variety of ways the conveniences, comforts, security, and healthfulness of homes have been added to of late by provisions made in the planning and construction of buildings.

Formerly French or English plate glass was demanded for every good building. American plate glass slowly but surely worked to the front rank in the quality, and has become one of our great home industries. The invention of a fireproof-glass, such as is made by enclosing a wire screen in the sheet of glass, has worked a revolution in interior construction, so that glass is now used where formerly only a solid fireproof construction was allowable. In art glass work for windows, American manufacturers and American artists produce the equal of the best made in any other country.

Marbles in great variety, sandstones in almost every color, and granite of various hues are quarried in all directions; and through cheap transportation by water or rail, every section of the country has an available supply of every kind and color of stone for architectural effect in buildings. Stone is planed and carved by machinery more accurately and quicker than by hand. The labor thus saved, and the consequent cheapening of molded and carved stone, have increased the consumption and given employment to a far greater number of workmen than would otherwise have been the case. The world's experience has shown, moreover, that while machinery increases production, it also opens new fields for useful labor, and the cheapening of the cost of manufactured products proportionately increases their consumption by bringing them within the reach of a greater number of persons. Not only in stone, but in every kind of material which enters into the construction and finishing of buildings, has machinery reduced the cost. The army of workmen is vastly greater in numbers, and wages are higher than when hand labor had the field entirely to itself.

Wood moldings were laboriously worked out by hand in former years. Machinery changed all that, so that to-day a carpenter would as soon think of hewing out timber from the log by hand as to work out by hand the trim for a house. From the molding-mill the trim now comes all ready to be put in place. Hard woods, especially ash and oak, have largely taken the place of white pine for trim, and it is due to machinery that doors and architraves around openings can be obtained in hard woods at less

« PreviousContinue »