A lavish display of ornate masonry detailing embellishes this 8883-square-foot Italianate-style residence. The buff-and-rose colored brick façade features projected and recessed courses, a dentil marking the lower roofline, and two banded chimneys. In the rear, soldier and rowlock courses add intricacy to the piering and 10 walk-through arches.
Abundant accents of carved Indiana limestone include window surrounds, balustrades, and a bullnose course that breaks up the mass of brick. Elaborate cornices and wide, overhanging eaves are supported by decorative brackets. The brick walls sit atop a base of Alba stone, a split-faced, crystalline concrete block in a pinkish hue.
It was up to the masonry crew to ensure that the numerous decorative elements would fall into place at the right heights. “The brick veneer, the bullnose sill, and the Alba stone were all different sizes; and the architect didn't specify the number of courses,” explained John Spencer, president of Spencer Brickwork Inc., the St. Louis masonry contractor on the project. The company, which specializes in high-end custom homes, planned the construction of an elaborately detailed L-shaped exterior staircase at the rear, which was particularly difficult, Spencer said.
The task of making sure everything fits together is all in a day's work for foreman Mike Gilbert, a 20-year veteran with the firm. “This job took more layout work than most,” remembered Gilbert. “You have to give it a lot of thought, do some figuring on paper, and lay it out on the wall as you go, marking everything so the details come out right. If the design details don't lay out properly, ultimately we are the ones who know how to fix it the best. But the design of that house was pretty near right on the money.”
Another challenge was the arch over the main entryway, constructed of brick that were hand-cut onsite to minimize the size of the mortar joints. “The door measurements came too late to pre-order the cut brick,” said Spencer. “The crew used a diamond saw and sliced down each unit, keeping them uniform.” Hand cutting also was required to construct a hexagonal brick pizza oven, part of a fully equipped outdoor kitchen adjacent to the deck.
A crew averaging about six workers completed the $440,000 masonry contract using 64,000 modular-sized brick and two trailers of ornate cut stone.
Masonry Contractor: Spencer Brickwork Inc., St. Louis, Mo.
Architect: Dick Busch Architects, St. Louis, Mo.
Builder: St. Albans Construction, St. Albans, Mo.
Masonry Suppliers: Richards Brick Co., St. Louis, Mo.; Simpson Materials Co., Fenton, Mo.; and Lager Monument Co., Breese, Ill.