Monday, March 16, 2009

Building or block or both?

I am disabused.

Of what? Of the idea that the English talk of apartment blocks is a strange use of the language. I had never heard of any individual buildings in this country referred to as blocks (even tho I went through a brief period of Chicago-style architectural snobbery like many callow youths). All that was long before I came to Prescott, started walking its streets and looked just a little more carefully at what I thought I was seeing. Lo and behold, I have recently discovered that there are two early-1900s buildings downtown that proudly call themselves the Union Block (above) and the Raible Block.

The Union Block is on Gurley, right across from the Courthouse; the brick facade appears to be the original brick facing, unlike the Raible Block at 114 N. Cortez Street. I suppose we can be thankful that the original brickwork above its entrance was retained even as the remainder of the building suffered bland modernization. There might be yet another building that characterizes itself as a block; if so, I may be lucky enough to locate it.

8 comments:

Antipodean Curmudgeon said...

They're blocks here too-a block of flats etc.

Hermano

Melanie A. said...

I've seen the block designation on a number of mid 19th-early 20th c. commercial buildings in the US. Maybe it had some significance for financing or zoning.

worldphotos4 said...

I'm familiar with the term block of flats. Do these two building take up a complete block or are there other building on the street?

Linda G. said...

I simply never noticed this peculiarity! Perhaps, before numbers were included in addresses, naming the blocks facilitated mail delivery.

Ron Bloomquist said...

Great find!

Granny J said...

bro -- I presume you are referring to an apartment building (singular).

melanie -- I just got this from my old Collelgiate -- "a large building divided into separate functional units", which, I presume might have meant an office building or apartment house.

steve -- no, these are individual buildings. And certainly in the case of the Union bbock, old pictures show it as one of several structures on the block.

ron -- hope I find some more...

lindag -- I suspect that Collegiate definition is more like it...

Antipodean Curmudgeon said...

Nah, it's a block of apartments.

Another interesting one on nomenclature of abodes. The real estate speak building with individually owned flats/apartments known as, ugh, condominium/a here is simply known as a strata block--the word strata not refering to dirt, but to strata title. What is the title term used for an, ugh, condo???

Hermano







Nah

Granny J said...

bro -- strata??? That's truly a new one for me. At least the term block in the English sense is in my Collegiate. On the other hand, you seem to be saying that down in OZ, an apartment block would be an entire city block filled with more than one apartment building, right?

 
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