This detail comes from a building, which believe it or not, was THE proto-type for all our high-rise buildings. It is Bage’s Flax Mill, the world’s first iron-framed building, constructed in Shrewsbury, in the English Midlands in 1797. As with much invention, it was driven by a series of disasters, specifically the conflagration of several timber-framed textile factories. Cotton and flax dust is highly combustible, and these early factories were candle lit. The losses to the owners were considerable (never mind the damage to the workers). Fire resistant buildings were what they wanted. The techniques of this iron-framed brick clad mill were further adapted in the rebuilding of Chicago after the great fire of 1871.
For more on this and the grim story of the young flax mill workers who were employed here see my earlier post: Pattern for the Sky Scraper
copyright 2014 Tish Farrell