Friday Factoid: NC’s clay makes great bricks

TryonPalace_LRNorth Carolina’s brick manufacturing history reaches back to the late 1600s, when brick-making colonists trickled down from Virginia to settle around Albemarle Sound. They ground up clam and oyster shells for mortar. By the early 1700s, the coastal area was known for making bricks and tiles. Farther south, in New Bern, Tryon Palace [pictured above], the massive home of royal Gov. William Tryon, was made of brick. The original house was completed in 1770.

Prisoners made the bricks used to build the governor’s mansion in Raleigh. Some of the sidewalk bricks still bear the names of the men who made them. The mansion was finished in 1891 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Also on the National Register: the George Black House and Brickyard in Winston-Salem. Brick-maker George Black, the son of a former slave, started a brickyard behind the house in the early 1900s. Black handcrafted bricks known internationally for their quality and durability.

During the post-World War II building boom, North Carolina was the brick capital of the nation, producing more than any other state. Most plants were in the Piedmont region, where population, demand, and raw materials intersected.

Today, North Carolina remains strong in brick-making; it ranks No. 2 behind Texas, the home of Acme Brick, a giant manufacturer owned by Berkshire Hathaway. In NC, the number of manufacturers dropped from about 30 in 1960 to 13 today. Seven of the surviving companies are owned by North Carolina families. Brick homes are still in demand, and North Carolina continues to fill that demand. And our bricks are prized by high profile customers outside the state as well — even the walkways of Disney World and Disneyland are paved with NC brick.

Source: Our State magazine

Whatever the material used to build the home of your dreams, a professional who understands the complexities involved in real estate and is familiar with the North Carolina market can help you find it. There’s no better way to get started than to visit www.BHHSCarolinas.com to find a knowledgable real estate professional nearest you.

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