On a recent trip to Oklahoma to visit family, I found myself with a little time in downtown Perry. It is a charming little square with many of the old brick buildings on the National Registry of Historic Places. I sat on the huge stairs to the Carnegie Library, one of the city’s crown jewels, and took a couple of photos of buildings that caught my eye. I was especially attracted to the buildings with that beautiful red brick found in old buildings. City Hall and Antiques on the Square both speak to the quaint, nostalgic feeling of the town square.
Quite often, in both Indian and Oklahoma territories a town’s first brick edifice was a bank. In hundreds of communities, “bricks” were erected after entire blocks of wood-frame buildings burned. Because it was fire-retardant, brick became the preferred construction material in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Oklahoma-made brick tended to be either red or dark buff in color, giving character to the main streets of little towns like Perry. Oklahoma has numerous historic properties that are significant for their brick construction. For instance, ten red-brick warehouses in Oklahoma City are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
When you consider some of the windy weather that blows through Oklahoma, it brings to mind The Three Little Pigs-who each built a home to protect themselves from the Big Bad Wolf. Of course the houses of straw and twigs quickly succumbed to the huffing and puffing of the Wolf. Only the house of brick withstood the Wolf’s attempt to blow the house down. Easy to see why the good folks of Perry opted for brick-they wanted their important buildings to withstand the huffing and puffing of that wind as it came sweeping across the plains.
My tribute to bricks is focused on the little town of Perry, OK-population 5,000. Where have you seen brick banks, city halls and businesses preserved through the years because of the building material of brick?
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