Anatomy of A Rowhouse Roof: Part 1!

Anatomy of A Rowhouse
It’s hard to overstate the importance of a solid roof to a structure, but let’s try: the roof is the most important thing in the history of buildings, ever. Ok, so that might be a stretch, but it’s not that much of a stretch.
The basic function of the roof is to protect the building (and its inhabitants) from the elements, be they rain, snow, wind, sun, dust, you name it. In our work, we often see what happens when a roof is compromised. As soon as water is able to penetrate the building envelope, the condition of the interior deteriorates rapidly: water trickling down party walls causes bricks to erode and plaster to crumble. These bits then accumulate on soaked floorboards, which themselves sit on water-logged (and therefore rot-prone) joists. After a decade or so, you’ve got a pile of mush surrounded by brick walls.
roofless rowhouse

All that’s left of this roof system is a lone rafter. It’s likely that this roof has been gone for some time, as virtually none of the interior of the building remains. 

Having established the importance of a roof, let’s turn our attention to the way that late 19th and early 20th century rowhouse builders built these things. There’s more variation than you might expect, so we’ll tackle this subject by looking at different blocks of houses.
First up is the 1500 block of E Federal Street, built around 1888.
skeleton of roof

You can see the long purlins spanning across the beefier rafters. Towards the top left of the frame, the purlins end at the cornice.

In this framing system, 2.5×8 rafters spanning the width of the house are pocketed into opposing party walls every five to eight feet. Purlins, 12-16′ long 2x4s spaced every two feet run front to back, spanning three rafters. In other words, the purlins span from one rafter to another, bridging and, because of the long span of a relatively flimsy 2×4, bearing on a third rafter in the middle of the span.

IMG_4535 2

Atop and perpendicular to the purlins, 1″ thick roof decking spans from party wall to party wall.
roof decking

Atop the purlins is 1″ thick pine roof decking. 

What’s notable about this framing system is the significant spacing between the beefy rafters. The long purlins are being asked to do a lot of work holding up the roof decking, tin, and tar. Supporting this weight, the purlins flex downwards. If the purlins are supple, they’ll bend and transfer weight to the rafters. If the purlins are brittle, they’ll crack.
tub framing

The rafter closest in the frame is buckling under all the weight it’s had to carry over the years. 

If I had to bet my ducats, I’d say that the builders of these houses thought they could get away with using as few 2x8s as possible, relying on cheaper 2x4s to carry the load. The results are mixed: true, most of the roofs in the houses we worked in were intact, but all of them showed seriously stressed rafters or purlins. Even if the initial framing was sturdy enough to support the original roof coverings, it’s clear that it was not up to the task of supporting decades’ worth of additional layers of tar.

roof framing

Baltimore, as remembered by Janet Divel (née Vanik)

Ghosts of Baltimore
Our readers out there with careful eyes and unusually strong memories may have noticed that the maiden name in the title of this post seems familiar. Nearly two years ago, we glimpsed into the life of Frank Vanik, a blacksmith who lived at 2438 Eager Street, site of our very first deconstruction project.

2438 E Eager Street, as we found it nearly two years ago.

When we arrived on the scene, 2438 Eager Street had been long abandoned and was essentially four brick walls surrounding a pile of rotted lumber. Through census records, however, we were able to track Frank Vanik’s path from neighborhood blacksmith to shipyard worker to auto mechanic, a trajectory that we felt aptly captured the moment he lived in.
Two years after we first wrote about him, we’re happy to report that we have a bit more information about Frank, as well as some vividly and beautifully remembered stories of his former neighborhood, thanks to Janet Divel (née Vanik), his grand-niece, the woman you see in the photo below.

Janet Divel (Vanik) in front of her house at 408 N Port Street. She is 14 in this photo. (Image courtesy of Janet Divel)

Janet saw our post about her great uncle and wrote to us. Turns out Janet grew up in the same neighborhood as Great Uncle Frank, a few blocks south of Eager Street on the 400 block of N Port Street. She lived there from the early 1940s until 1964, when she moved away from Baltimore. There’s no sense in trying to paraphrase her beautiful writing, so what follows is the letter that Janet sent us, interspersed with her own photos, as well as some that we’ve taken or sourced from elsewhere:
“Growing up in Baltimore City was a mixture of sounds, smells, sights and people. We in the late 40s, 50s, and early 60s lived a unique way of life, something that is disappearing. We were mostly growing up in a working class/low income area; there was no assistance those days. We never had much money, but we had the neighborhood, which we were all connected to and if someone needed help, if a neighbor could help they would…We all were responsible for something that we called neighborhood. Neighbors would be out front and in the alleys with their hoses and brooms and cleaning the streets and alleys. There was a lot of pride how your street and house looked not fancy but clean.

This shot, which Janet says was taken before she was born, probably in the 1930s, shows her neighborhood in East Baltimore. (Image courtesy of Janet Divel)

No one had air conditioning. In the summer we would all sit out front on the steps. We were taught that all of us knew those two words, respect and responsibility. One of my jobs when I turned 9 was to scrub the front steps which were marble slabs, take a bath every Saturday, run errands, clean the vestibule which was the very small entrance and get a job, when out of school; the average age out of school 15/17 years old.
After graduating the eighth grade from St. Wenceslaus School in 1953 on Collington Avenue and Madison Street, which is now a housing unit. I believe the church is still there. I went to St. Andrews Business School on Washington Street and Madison Street for two years after graduating I got a job. Now it’s a parking lot for Hopkins Hospital.

Site of the former St. Andrew’s Commercial School. (Image courtesy of Google Maps)

Patterson Park, located on Patterson Park Avenue and Baltimore Street was the only country I grew up with. There was a playground and in the winter a place to sleigh ride. The park was fairly safe then, and we were young, not teenagers yet, but always went to the park with other friends. We looked out for each other. Growing up in the city made you street smart at a young age.
The boys in the neighborhood were always told on those narrow city streets, or yelled at, to go to the park to play baseball. When they hit the ball with a bat there were many windows in the way.

This photo shows Janet’s brother, Richard, in the rear of their house at 408 N Port Street. (Image courtesy of Janet Divel)

Patterson Park was 4 blocks from my house. There was a Chinese pagoda type building on the Patterson park Avenue side which was always a mystery to me.

(Image courtesy of postcard

The sounds were lots of things. There was a church on Patterson Park Ave and Orleans St. that would chime every quarter, half, and whole hour. After a while you liked it. I knew what time it was. The traffic sounds on the 2400 block of Orleans Street, which was down the corner from house, all day and night. A huckster would come down the street with a horse and wagon selling watermelon and other fruits and veggies yelling “watermelon.” He would cut a pyramided slice for you to test it for sweetness. Down the back alley there would come a guy once a week yelling “get your scissors and gives sharpened here.” As the 50s disappeared, so did the hucksters. There was a stable on N. Bradford Street and E. Monument Street and a place where people made brooms. When they tore that down, it was over for that way of life.
Now the smells were great during the summer. Less than a block away there were two crab houses on the 2400 block of Orleans St., Patterson Park Avenue and Milton Ave. They were the Blue Point Crab house and Gordon’s Crab House. They would pick the crab meat there behind large glass windows, you could watch the ladies working. They had a menu of fresh crabs, steamed crabs, crab meat, crab cakes, soft crab sandwiches and crab cake subs. The local grocery and produce stores would always have soft crabs lying on a table with something that looked like wet hay lying on the top and you could pick out the soft crab that you wanted. One of the more popular things were coddies, shaped like a small hamburger made of potatoes and cod fish. The local stores would also have them on their counters with mustard and saltine crackers. You could buy one for 5 cents. Add a Pepsi with that and you had a meal.
From my upstairs window we could see the Esskay Meat factory sign, which was on 3800 East Baltimore Street til 1993, so depending on the way the wind blew, you could smell various meat smells. This place was one of the main employers in the area in the 40s, 50s, and 60s.

(Image courtesy of

It’s like the factories disappeared and the city changed for the worst.
The sights and people were just about anything you could imagine. Busy and vibrant is the words I can think of. Local clubs (gangs) started appearing in the 50s, names like the Imperials and Imperialets, with red and white jackets, the Joyriders with green and white jackets, 7th wards, and many others. Just to make it clear, we were not violent or disrespectful, we were a bunch of kids having fun. The hangout places were North Rose Street and East Jefferson Street, the Arundel on North Bradford Street and East Monument Street and Patterson park Avenue and Madison.
dockie hunt.JPG

“Dockie” Hunt on the left. According to Janet, he was known as one of the best dressed guys in the neighborhood. (Image courtesy of Janet Divel)

Buses were the main type of transportation those days, especially in the early 50s, more and more of the young guys started to buy cars, old cars, nothing new, and they sure loved those cars. Old Fords, Chevrolets, and anything they could afford. Most of the cars were primered, looked like a dull black paint, and were never really painted. Who could afford that. There were garages near the train tracks off of North Luzerne Avenue, small, but that was the busiest place for all the young guys.

This photo shows Richard Vanik leaning on a Ford Fairlane. According to Janet, he’s around 13 in this photo, so he probably wasn’t driving this beast. (Image courtesy of Janet Divel)

We all had things happen to us, good and not so good, but I really believe all of us in the neighborhood would have not wanted to grow up anywhere else.”

Why Our Bricks Have No Frogs

To the reader unversed in brick terminology, the title of this post probably seems nonsensical, so we direct your attention to our primer on brick frogs before you go any further.


To briefly recap, frogs are indentations made in the bed of a brick that have the following practical advantages: 1) they reduced the amount of clay needed to make a brick, 2) they lightened the brick 3) they created a better key for the mortar to adhere to, 4) they offered a surface for the brick maker to impress his name upon, acting as an early canvas for advertising.
We are most concerned with this last item, the branding potential of a lowly brick. First a bit of history: brick frogs seem to date the late 17th century, but only came into use in the US during the late 19th century. The Hudson Valley region, which supplied most of the bricks to the voracious New York City building market, saw a progression of bricks featuring a brand on the surface of the brick (as seen below) to a recessed frog, to even deeper frogs (seen further below).

(Image courtesy of


(Image courtesy of brick

The recessed frog seems to have become popular (for Hudson Valley brickmakers and others) around the turn of the century. To supply the booming NYC market, hundreds of brickmakers lined both banks of the Hudson all the way past Albany, sending their bricks to the city by barge.

Bricks from an old brickyard in Kingston, NY lining the western bank of the Hudson (Image courtesy of brick

Here, you can imagine the branded frog playing an important role: amid the atmosphere of fierce competition in a booming industry, the frog allowed proud brickmakers to advertise their name and catch the eye of builders. Imagine you’re a bricklayer for a 20 story building, and you’re handling thousands of bricks a day, all of them marked with the name “MASSEY”. The name impressed upon the brick probably becomes impressed upon your mind, and when your current load runs out, who’re you gonna call?
In New York City, virtually every old building brick you come across will have one of several hundred brands on it.  In Baltimore, brick hunting can be an exercise in frustration, because it seems there are hardly any bricks with frogs and/or names on them. Sure, you’ll see a “CALVERT” or a “HOMEWOOD” occasionally, maybe an “OXFORD” here or there, but that’s about it. During our deconstruction projects, we’ve handled well over one million bricks, and the tally of bricks with frogs stands at: zero. What gives?

All these beautiful bricks, but not a frog in sight

What follows is only a guess, but a quasi-educated one. We’ve mentioned that frogs became popular during the late 19th century, so it pays to see what was going on in the Baltimore brick biz around then. Turns out something momentous was taking place:
In July of 1899, the Baltimore Brick Company was formed when it bought up almost all of the competing brickmakers in Baltimore, essentially becoming a monopoly in the Baltimore brick game. Along with several other smaller firms, the Baltimore Brick Co. absorbed these fine brick manufacturers: Baltimore High Grade Brick Co., A. & F. Wehr, Weaver & Harman, Maryland Brick Co., Pitcher & Creager Brick Co., Wm. H. Perot, Jas. R. Busey & Son, Smith & Schwartz Brick Co., H. W. Classen & Co., Cromwell Bros., John A. Knecht & Sons, Druid Brick Co., Dan’l Donnelly & Sons, John A. Allers & Son. In the map of East Baltimore below, from 1876, you can see the Donnelly, Smith, Robinson, and Perot brickyards.


In this map of the same area from 1906, you can see “Baltimore Brick Co.” scrawled over the entire area.


The formation of the Baltimore Brick Company is a prime example of industrial consolidation, as behemoths were created from the agglomeration of many humble enterprises. Three years after its formation, the Baltimore Brick Co was churning out 150,000,000 bricks per year.
To be sure, some venerable Baltimore firms resisted the lure of the mighty BBCo; Burns and Russell, whose bricks were used in the construction of the Shot Tower, Johns Hopkins Hospital, and Old St. Paul’s Church, remained in business, as did several specialty clay companies. But it’s fairly safe to say that any rowhouse built in the city after 1900 used common bricks supplied by the Baltimore Brick Company.
Which answers, partially, why we believe our bricks have no frogs. One of the main attractive features of the frog, the ability to promote a brand, would probably have been deemed unnecessary by the BBCo, as monopolies generally don’t need to advertise! This alone probably wouldn’t account for the lack of a frog in our Baltimore bricks, but it certainly seems like a plausible factor.

Frog-less Baltimore bricks, undoubtedly made by the Baltimore Brick Company

The Baltimore Brick Company, by the way, operated in the city until 1968. It’s tricky to pin down exactly, but it seems like parts of the company were eventually swallowed up by larger regional players, which were then themselves ultimately swallowed up by a massive multi-national brick company.

Brick + Board is Here!

Brick + Board
Of all the questions we get asked, perhaps the one most frequently posed is, “so, what do you guys do with all that stuff?” When you deconstruct a house, you’re left with a pile of materials that is essentially the same size as that house, if slightly consolidated. Our job doesn’t end when the house is fully deconstructed; we’ve still gotta figure out what to do with literally tons upon tons of salvaged building materials.


Fortunately for us, the materials we salvage are some of the nicest stuff on earth. Heart pine flooring, hand-molded brick, and rough-sawn lumber are hard to come by these days, and we’re thrilled that we get to lay our hands on such beautiful stuff.


Fortunately for you, there’s now a convenient outlet for these materials! That outlet is Brick + Board. When a century old Baltimore rowhouse reaches the end of the line, its bones deserve to live on, and we take pride in harvesting, preserving and preparing these materials for their next hundred years of life.


Ghosts of Etting Street

Ghosts of Baltimore
Etting Street is the first block that we’ve done on the west side of town, so we’ll be dealing with different housing typologies from older eras, different builders, and a different set of folks who lived in these houses.
We’ve been working on the 1800 block of Etting Street, which appears to have been built around 1890. Before we get into the folks who lived there, it’s worth remembering the man whom the street is named after (many thanks to this Baltimore Heritage profile for info!)

Solomon Etting. (Image courtesy of

Solomon Etting was a Jewish merchant and politician who moved to Baltimore from York, PA in 1791. Etting was a prominent citizen of Baltimore, a successful businessman who eventually joined as one of the founders of the B&O Railroad. Even with his successes and high standing, Etting was banned from holding office because of his faith. He thrice petitioned to be placed upon the same footing as other citizens, and was thrice denied. When the Jew Bill (yes, it was actually called that) was passed in 1826, it enabled Jews to hold public office, making Maryland the last state to grant these rights. Etting, thirty-five years after he arrived in Baltimore, won a City Council seat and was one of the first Jews to hold elected office in Maryland.

A tombstone from the Etting Family Cemetery showing the “Etting” surname. (Image courtesy of

Etting created the Etting Family Cemetery when his daughter, Rebecca, died in 1799. This plot is the oldest Jewish cemetery in Baltimore. Among the burials is that of Zalman Rehine, who is reputed to be the first rabbi to come to America.
Now let’s discuss some of the folks who lived on the 1800 block. In 1910, it appears that all of the families living on this block were either listed as being Black or “mulatto.” Thus far, all of the blocks we’ve worked on have been in East Baltimore, and were originally built to house arriving European immigrants. The 1800 block of Etting is the first block that we’ve worked on that was built to house African-American Baltimoreans.


The 1800 block of Etting lies within the Upton neighborhood, which was one of the most affluent African-American neighborhoods in the country at the turn of the century. While many of the city’s prominent African-American citizens owned property in Upton, it was by no means exclusively wealthy. “The Bottom” referred to the southern and western portions of Upton, and it was here that many in the black working class lived. The 1800 block of Etting was within this region. A quick look at the jobs of inhabitants of that block confirms this: waiter, cook, laundress, seamstress pop up again and again.
Priscilla Burnette was a cook who lived at 1807 Etting Street in 1900. Ms. Burnette was 40 years old, widowed, and lived with her daughters Minnie and Berthe and her son William.  Ms. Burnette’s neighbors were also cooks, as was her daughter Minnie.
1807 etting

1807 Etting is the formstoned house to the left. (Image courtesy of Google)

Now here’s where it gets interesting. The 1900 census lists another Priscilla Burnett (no final ‘e’ in this surname), 44 yrs old, also widowed, who is listed as being a live-in “servant” and a cook for Israel Rosenfield and family. The Rosenfields lived at 2221 Eutaw Place, a large three-story brownstone in Reservoir Hill, just half a mile from 1803 Etting. This Priscilla Burnett, however, is listed as being white.

2221 eutaw.jpg

The two Priscilla Burnett(e)s have nearly identical names, similar ages, identical jobs, are both widowed, and live within a half mile radius of one another. We’re left with a couple options here: either there really were two people with insanely parallel lives, or it’s the same Priscilla Burnette listed as living in both places.
I think the second option is far more likely. But if that’s the case, why would her race be listed as “black” for one address and “white” for the other? This could be a simple clerical error, it could be that Ms. Burnette could “pass” for white, or it could be that the Rosenfields’, for some reason, declared to the census-taker that their servant was white. The 1910 census does not show a Ms. Burnette at either address, and it reveals that a new family had moved into 1807 Etting Street.

The living room at 1807 Etting in its current state.

The Pavers of Baltimore, Part 2

Baltimore Lore, Bricks
Way back when, we highlighted one of the pavers that sits below our long-since-asphalted streets here in Baltimore. These pavers were used to pave streets before asphalt became commonplace in the 1920s.
We briefly discussed how a paver (also called a ‘block’) operation required more sophisticated machinery and infrastructure than your average brick operation. Because of this, Baltimore actually imported much of its stock of 10 lb pavers. Today we’ll look at another block that can be found under the streets of Baltimore.
The town of Windber, PA started as a company town for the Berwind-White Coal Mining Company (see what they did there?). The company brought over large amounts of Eastern European immigrants during the early years of the 20th century to work in the mines, and by 1910, the town that had formed only years earlier had a population of nearly 10,000.


Windber became a minor boomtown, with sawmills and brick manufacture joining coal mining as the main industrial activities. The W.P. Kelley Brick Co, which got off the ground in 1901, seems to have been behind the “Windber” paver brand.

windber paver.jpg

Next to the “Windber” name, you can see the four ovular lugs that acted as natural spacers when these pavers were laid on their edge, as seen in the photo. You can also just make out smaller circular bumps in the top corners of the paver: these were caused by indented screws fixed to the face of the mold.

News About the Novaks!

Baltimore Lore, Ghosts of Baltimore

2308 madison entry novak

Over a year ago, we spotlighted the man who built the houses we deconstructed on Eager Street, Frank Novak. Legend has it that Novak built 7,000 rowhouses in East Baltimore, beginning in 1899 with the 700 block of Patterson Park, and moving north and east to help construct Baltimore’s rapidly developing suburbs.
Several months ago, we got an email from Elizabeth Day,  Novak’s great-grand-niece (Novak was her father’s great uncle), who shared some family history with us. She told us that her father, James Scroggs, had come across the blog and had enjoyed reading about his great uncle’s role in shaping Baltimore. We sent James a brick from one of Novak’s houses, and he more than repaid us with the wonderful history that follows:
Frank wasn’t the only entrepreneurial Novak: in 1907 (the same year the houses on Eager Street were built), Frank’s older brother Joseph opened a saloon at 2308 E Madison Street. Joseph ran the saloon until Rudolph, a younger brother, took it over in 1913. Rudolph ran the joint until 1920, when Prohibition forced him to convert it into a soda/fountain. James recounts that, “my mother’s recollections of the place were of a friendly neighborhood gathering place, a kind of ethnic pub where her mother and aunt cooked up Czech delicacies.”
James’ mother was named Florence, and in the photo below you can see her with her cousin Mildred Raborg in front of Novak’s Saloon. The photo was taken in 1918.

'18 Mildred Raborg & Florence Novak at door of Novak Saloon

James also sent along a photo of the same address nearly 80 years later:

2308 Madison St in 1996

Here’s what the intersection looks like today:

2308 madison

You can see that some of the original details remain: the ornamental brackets supporting the entryway are still there under several coats of paint, as are the marble slabs framing the entry landing.
James ended his email by noting that “Frank Novak seems to have been a very modest man. He deserves more credit.”
James also sent along Frank Novak’s obituary, which we’ll discuss in more detail in a later post.

Now You Can Buy Our Beautiful Materials!

Brick + Board
If you’re a friend of this blog, you’ve heard us rave about the superior quality of Baltimore bricks and the incomparable beauty of 130 year-old lumber. You may have thought to yourself, “hooooooweee I’d like to get my hands on some of that!”
We’re happy to announce that now you can! Details Deconstruction is spinning out a new social enterprise focusing on the materials we salvage, the stories they tell, and the work we do to prepare these materials for their next lives.

reclaimed flooring baltimore

Brick + Board will be marketplace for reclaimed bricks, lumber, flooring, architectural details and more, but it will also be a training program: using the bounty of raw material that we harvest in Baltimore and beyond, we’re excited to start training folks in basic carpentry, woodworking, and milling. Our plan is to bring skilled industrial work back into the heart of Baltimore.

reclaimed brick stacking

The materials we salvage were milled, molded, and installed in Baltimore by Baltimoreans. Now, a century later, a new group of Baltimoreans is reclaiming these materials, brick by brick.
Check out our new Facebook page by clicking HERE!

Bricks & Snow Removal in Baltimore

Baltimore Lore


1922 snow baltimore

Removing snow by the cart-full in Baltimore in 1922. (Image courtesy of

During these wintry times, when the majesty of falling snow has given way to the dread of dealing with mounds of it, let us pause and recall that our aching backs and calloused hands are nothing new, that our forefathers and mothers had to shovel out their wagons, de-ice their single-pane windows, and plow, or rather roll, the streets with snow rollers.
Until 1862, when Milwaukee adopted the first snow plows, snow rollers would be used to compact the snow, making streets passable. These rollers actually made the streets more passable, as the compacted snow served as a perfect surface for ski and sled-mounted vehicles.
Besides the rollers, cities heavily relied on their citizenry (and occasionally their police forces) to remove the snow. Snow was a major physical obstacle, something that appeared somewhat regularly and had to be regulated as such.
In the Baltimore of 1858, this regulation came in the form of Ordinance No. 33, Sec. 31. The broad ordinance was designed to “restrain evil practices…and to remove nuisances.” Sec. 31 dealt with snow removal from footpaths, and mirrors modern regulations: essentially, folks were required to clear the footpaths that fronted their property within three hours of snow falling.

brick and snow regs

What’s odd is the placement of this Section: it comes directly after Sec. 30 (not the odd part) which deals with brick kiln regulations! One can imagine the drafters of the city ordinances creating their list of nuisances, and saying, “Heavens yes, we must certainly regulate the foul odours and displeasing smoke coming from those brick kilns. Hmmm, you know what else is equally as problematic? Snow!”

Ghosts of Port Street: Part II (Port Street Wire Workers, Part Deux)

Ghosts of Baltimore
In the last Ghosts of Port Street, we featured Stephen Bohdal, a humble wireworker whose experience ultimately paid off when he created a patent for a “Combined Coat and Skirt Hanger.”
Bohdal lived at 900 N Port Street, and just next door, in 902, lived the Widra family. In 1910, the Widra family consisted of Peter, his wife Rose, and their three children, Rudolph, Charles, and Helen. Like his neighbor Bohdal, Peter was a wireworker. In fact, the two neighbors owned a wire works together at 717 E Fayette Street, appropriately named Widra and Bohdal.

902 n port

It seems the neighbors eventually went their separate ways, as both Widra and Bohdal opened their own businesses. Peter Widra & Company Ornamental Wire Works specialized in elevator cars, lawn settees, and bank railings, among other things. They operated out of a factory at 516 Ensor Street.

widra wire baltimore

By the time the 1920 Census was taken, Peter had died, and Rose was running the business. The family still lived at 902 N Port, though Rose’s mother, brother, and niece had moved in. Charles, who at 15 was the oldest Widra son, did not enter the family trade, and instead worked as a clerk at an insurance agent. In 1930, Charles had moved out to the suburbs where he worked as a press operator at an aircraft factory. By 1940, he had moved back home to East Baltimore, though he kept his work as an aircraft mechanic.
902 port rear

The rear of 902 Port after we took off the roof, peeled up the flooring, removed the joists, and manually took down the walls.

One imagines that the work of an aircraft mechanic must have been somewhat of a natural extension to the work of a wire worker. Maybe it was in Charles Widra’s blood? In looking at the earliest listing for the Widra family, the “d” in the name seems cut short, almost to the point that it looks like an “a”. The name seems to be written as “Wiara”. This could be the case, of course; perhaps the immigration official or census taker or whoever first wrote down the name “Wiara” wrote it in such a way that it looked like “Widra” and the new name just stuck. It is quite possible that the family’s original name was “Wiara”: in old German, it means “wire”.

widra wiara