Hit the Bricks

A few people have commented how Coronation Street the place looks. I have to agree, and I have been getting a lot of great ideas from books and web sites based in the UK. The key words to use on those searches is terrace houses.  I have also been finding some helpful information from reno blogs of the rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn brownstones.

It was on one of those sites I read about the interior doorways that connected all the houses together during construction so the workers and materials could easily travel from one unit to the next. When they were finished the doors were bricked up and plastered over. I like that explanation, but this particular rowhouse was a former officers’ barracks and there are other theories floating around among the residents of the Twelve Apostles. I guess I could do some research on this, but dang it if I don’t have enough to do already.

I have found three of these doorways in my place. One is in the second floor hallway. It is completely bricked up and looks as old and painted as the rest of the wall. The other two are on opposite walls in the living room and they were never bricked up. Covered over, yes, but still very leaky for sound, air and fire. Remember the lovely little archway we uncovered? That’s over one of the doorways.

Archway over Apostle 10 doorway in living room

Another faintly visible arch over an old bricked-up doorway on the second floor

One sticky wicket that must have been around since Shakespeare is the issue of the wall dividing the two homes. It is called a party wall, which makes it sound like it should be lots of fun with cake and refreshments. Alas, it is the source of much consternation and hand-wringing. My friend who worked as an architect in England tells me they have a Party Wall Act there and one of his colleagues was the office expert on the contents of the four-inch thick book.

The party walls at my place are as thick as two Party Wall Acts or in technical terms two wythes, which means two widths of brick or eight inches. That means four inches of the wall are mine to brick up if I so choose, which is exactly what we did.  One doorway was drywalled over and the other was home to a bookcase, or more accurately, the back half of a bookcase.

My living room and the back of a bookcase installed next door

Knock Knock! Who's...? Interrupting Bookcase!

Another brick in the... what?! C'mon, you knew that was coming.

My four inches of party wall gets bricked up.

That is concrete brick, cheapest available at 66 cents each. So beautiful, it brings a tear to my eye.

The bricked up doorway on the opposite wall.

While we were at it, we bricked up four little openings in the former attic space. They are located on both sides of the chimneys and they open into the neighbouring attic spaces – a no-no in terms of modern fire separation requirements. With that, the party wall is complete and continuous. Whew.

We bricked up four openings like this in the attic space.

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