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When were Cinder Blocks Invented?

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MarkRichmond

Thread Starter
Freshman Member
Joined
Jan 16, 2002
I inspected a house that was built in the 1880s according to the assessor (which seems correct based on the age of most houses in the neighborhood) but the basement walls were constructed with cinder blocks. I thought that these were a more modern invention.? Does anyone know the time in which these were first developed?
 

Larry Lyke

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 2, 2002
Mark --

"Developed" might be a misnomer. Cinder blocks are a poor man's version of the real thing and were often made on site by the workmen themselves with the cinders found or left over in the ashpits. Especially found in and around foundries and the like.

Seems a bit simplistic, but cinders were also used in versions of "bituminous" streets.

Don't forget Cinderella ... or the Barbie version, Cinderilla, the vanilla version of Barbie -- before the implants!
 

Roger

Junior Member
Joined
Jan 24, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Missouri
The original foundation may have been replaced, considering that the home that is that old.
 

Ben Vukicevich SRA

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 9, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
New Jersey
Mark,

I would go with Roger's post. Was the home moved to the site needing a new foundation or worse---is the cinder block foundation hiding the original foundation which may be in bad condition. Did you look at the basement windows to see how thick the foundation was? Is there brick or stone behind the cinder block foundation by the windows. Are the sill plates and floor joists resting on the new foundation or as I said, is the new foundation there just to hide problems....Maybe time for an engineer to have a look if the cinder block foundation is there to hide problems

Ben
 

jtrotta

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 16, 2002
Mark, in our area (New England) they appear to have come into play somewhere around the 1920's - the early vintage dwellings have granite/or other type stone foundations. In my home town we have houses dating back to the early 1600's (having been restored at various times-to retain history). One of the things you may want to do when you have the time is find an older mason and ask questions or go to your local library, they usually have info on early town development.

Good Luck 8)
 

Daniel Williams

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2002
Professional Status
Appraiser Trainee
State
Illinois
I did some searching last night.....not a lot of info on "history of cinder blocks" but...the concrete block we have come to know and love as "cinder blocks have been around (in their present form....2 hollow voids) since about 1850.

I agree with the others....the basement was possibly either relined (shored up) with a new course of block or matbe it never had a basment (originally built on crawl) and basement was dug and blocked more recently. I've seen a few houses where the basement was an afterthought and competed way after the original structure.

Just my .02.......
 

bradellis

Member
Joined
Jan 16, 2002
I do not have this answer- sorry. But, I would caution all to remember that what we think is true may not be.

I recall an instance about 10 years ago when I was working on a city project in Chicago. I inspected a home that clearly had a poured concrete foundation. It was visible above grade and in parts of the basement.

The chief appraiser called me and stated that I must be wrong since concrete was not used until the 1920's and that brick foundations were used before that. I replied, "Really? What about the colliseum in Rome?" I also got siome data from the Portland Cement Association (might want to check with them on the blocks).

Concrete has been used for over a thousand years. It could be that some enterprising ancestor of ours figured out how to make the cinder blocks- don't know, but I am not prepared to say it is impossible.

While it might be likely that the home received a new foundation, it is not a given, IMHO. Might also be likely that the home I appraised had concrete poured over the brick foundation- I forgot to bring my jackhammer to check that out.

Brad Ellis, IFA, RAA
 

Richard Carlsen

Elite Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2002
Professional Status
Licensed Appraiser
State
Michigan
I agree that blocks came into general use in the 20's with stone and some crudely built form concrete before. Many houses from that era have both concrete and block. There was a marked increase in poured concrete basements (and houses for that matter) after WWII due to the large surplus of concrete from the war effort.
 

Stone

Elite Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Wisconsin
Hi Mark. I appraise in the Madison area. Were you able to see all of the basement walls? I have seen old partial basements that had rubble foundations, but the crawl space has been dug out and walled with concrete block. Just a thought.
 

Ruth Langkawel

Sophomore Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2002
A couple of years ago, I appraised a home in West Michigan that was built in 1881, and the entire exterior structure (except the roof and windows :) )
was a molded concrete block. There is a similar home nearby.

The blocks were apparently a particular designer creation; and were probably considered very attractive in their day. As both homes are still well maintained, and functional after 121 years; there may be something to the way they were mixed. They were not fired, but retain their integrity. Only the molded design features are muted - assumed to be originally more defined.



HERE'S MY OLDER THAN DIRT STORY - true, by the way. As a kid, my numerous siblings and I hand dug a basement under our house. It was half crawl space, and half dirt cellar when we bought it; and today is a full walkout basement. All the digging was done by kids using a spade and 2 buckets. The dirt removed levelled the yard, filled in ruts in the alley and made a bike jump at the end of the alley.
 
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