If the Walls Could Talk

By Bob Josuweit
History Committee

Did you ever wonder what buildings were like in colonial times? To find the answer you only have to look at the outside of the church. By looking at the brick patterns on the building you can almost imagine how the church was put together. Let’s start with the simple glazed brick diamond patterns on both sides of the door as you enter church. The design is a decorative technique used by 17th and 18th century English brick masons in the Delaware Valley country brick houses. Remember the Church was in the country in 1700.

If you look at different parts of the church building you will notice different types of brick work. Gloria Dei’s first pastor, Andreas Rudman, who directed the construction of his church, noted the use of glazed header bricks in the Flemish bond brickwork. There are three bonds found in the church walls. According to Historical Architect Penelope Batcheler Flemish bond (alternating headers and stretchers in each course) is the bond most used in the principle facades of early Philadelphia houses. A second bond used is the English bond (alternating courses of all headers and all stretchers) is also found in Philadelphia facades. The third bond, Common bond, is made up of three to seven stretcher courses and then a header course is inserted to tie the brick wall together. In 1803 masons used six stretcher courses between each header course.

Take a look at the southwest corner of the church. You will notice the use of the English bond brickwork in the western wall and glazed header Flemish bond in the south wall. Continue around the church to the south and look at the corner of the church and extended porch or entrance. You will notice that the English bond bricks (1704) do not line up with the Flemish bond bricks (1700). In 1803 the brick tower was completed. Return to the church entrance and look up about 26-28 feet and you will notice an English bond. Above that point Common bond was used to complete the tower. So if you want to impress your friends just bond with the walls. (Info from Penelope Batcheler, 3/18/2000)

Written by Amy Grant

Amy Grant is a graphic designer and web developer. She is the founder of the Southwark Historical Society, a volunteer based group that studies the Southwark Historical District located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.