Bread Street
P.8513.97 Photographer's manuscript note on verso: (without wisp of smoke). Mortor [sic] was mixed in those days in a huge mortor [sic] box. The lime was slacked by shoveling it into the box, permitting water to flow into the box and keeping the mass in constant motion with a hoe, thereby preventing the lime from being burned or killed, when properly slacked, it was run off into a basin of sand, where it was mixed with the sand and made ready for use.
P.8513.84 Photographer's manuscript note on verso: Wisp of haze near centre of picture is smoke from a fire in the street opposite the house. Certin [sic] rooms in the building had just been papered and a bonfire was made of the refuse. This house is about 125 yrs old. Note the splendid condition of the brick work and mortor [sic] joints. Bricks were carfully [sic] made in those days. The proper proportion and careful selection of loam, shale and sand was an art. Then too the drying and baking of the brick was of vast importance and was done with the utmost attention towards the securing of the best results. These bricks were baked with wood fires, as was the lime on which they were laid. Explain why wood baked lime and bricks are superior to the coal baked product.
In these two photographs Wilson took of a house on Bread Street just north of Arch Street, he seems particularly interested in the construction of the brick building, more-so that the individuals occupying the frame, who he neglects to mention altogether. It is difficult to tell which property is being represented from the map below, and census records from 1920 list very few households on Bread Street, all of whom are African Americans. Wilson himself was a bricklayer, and though he usually commented on his interest in the people in his photographs, he seems to have been especially taken with this building. It no longer exists today.


E.V. Smith Fire Insurance Atlas, 1921, pl. 5