Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Brick by Brick

In previous blogs we have traced the construction of the Conway Public Library building through a “Memorial Booklet” written by the building’s architect Thomas Silloway. Recently a photograph of Silloway was found in the attic by the library’s Director, David Smolen. See the picture on our facebook page at this link.

According to Silloway, the contract for the building above the foundation was concluded on March 31, 1900 with Mr. George M. Tufts of Boston, building contractor, who sub-let all work of masonry to L.K. Marston, of Boston. When the library was expanded some of the original bricks were removed to allow a connection between the old and new sections. Some of these bricks were sold to help raise funds for the expansion and an example is currently on display in a curio cabinet near the library's main entrance on Greenwood. One of our Sanborn Insurance maps shows that at one time Greenwood was named Silloway Street. See this link for details on our map collection or better yet, come in and browse the collection. 

If you look carefully you can see that the original bricks were probably molded by hand using a mold similar to the "hands-on" example below.

A remarkable painting in a local private collection shows a brick making operation along the Saco River with Cathedral Ledge seen in the background.

You can compare the details of the painting with a "living history" example recreated at Colonial Williamsburg.

The library has a number of great books that detail the historic building process. The library also offers free outreach programs to schools and community groups, either powerpoint presentations and/or "hands on" displays of building tools and materials if you would like to learn more about historic New England building processes from "cellar to shingles."

To learn more contact us at the Conway Public Library's Henney History Room.

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