Skip to main content

Many charming historic homes incorporate bricks into their design, but there are still a few around that were built with a unique, lesser-known type of brick – the clinker brick.

Clinker bricks.

Because of the high heat, clinker bricks all came out of the kiln looking different.

Clinker bricks were originally rejected bricks, due to their irregular appearance. Early brick kilns could not distribute heat evenly, so bricks that were around the edges were super-heated beyond the intended temperature. They would become blackened and shiny and their forms would twist and often times split. Most architects looked for uniform, consistent bricks, so clinker bricks were tossed to the side, until the early 20th century, when a few architects were inspired by the unique look of clinker bricks.

Even though clinker bricks were somewhat mutated during the firing process, they still remained extremely durable. They were much heavier and denser than regular bricks and less porous, making them water-resistant. Architects, namely ones inspired by the Arts and Crafts Movement, salvaged the unwanted bricks and began to use them to construct homes and buildings. The varied shapes, sizes, and hues created an avant-garde-for-the-time aesthetic that people found surprisingly charming and visually interesting.

Clinker brick home in Kansas City.

This beautiful home is built with rare clinker bricks.

Not long after architects started experimenting with clinker bricks, kilns improved to heat bricks evenly, resulting in no more accidental clinker bricks being produced. Some brickmakers still would make clinker brick purposely, but their production greatly dropped. Clinker bricks are now incredibly rare to find and there are only a handful of buildings left that were created with them, mostly in California and along the East Coast.

Surprisingly, among the beautiful historic homes in Brookside, there is still one clinker brick home. It’s located in Wornall Homestead and was built in 1913 by Boillot and Lauck. They are also known for building the Walnuts, historic condos located south of the Country Club Plaza, and the Unity Tower in Unity Village, Missouri.

While clinker brick homes are rare, Brookside has many other stunning historic homes, each with its own unique stories to tell. Ellen is Brookside’s historic home enthusiast, so feel free to send her a message online if you are interested in finding your own historic charmer to call home!