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Your Weekly Reference Question

Did you know that Cream City brick is native to the Milwaukee area?

These bricks were one of the most common building materials used in Milwaukee during the mid and late 1800's, giving the city the nickname "Cream City."

According to the History of Milwaukee Wisconsin, Volume VII p. 1505, "The clay from which these bricks are made contain a large proportion of lime and some sulphur. The sulphur gives the creamy tint, which no other bricks present, and the opening of a kiln discovers the condensed flour of sulphur which adheres to the surface of the topmost bricks like a yellow frost."

Cream City bricks are well-known for their durability; many buildings constructed with them in the 1800's still stand today. One example is the Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, which was built more than 125 years ago.
Cream City bricks are porous which tends to make structures dark-colored as time passes. Once Cream City bricks absorb pollutants, they are difficult to clean, a problem with which restoration experts in Milwaukee have been faced since the 1970s. Initially, sandblasting was attempted; however, it not only proved to be ineffective, but was damaging to the bricks. Currently, chemical washes are the most effective and accepted method of cleaning Cream City bricks.



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