Recycled and Repurposed
Sometime around 1970, Jim Edwards built a brick ranch-style house for his parents on their property at 651 McCants Drive. Always a man ahead of his time, he chose to use salvaged bricks, possibly recycled from another building in the area or from downtown Charleston.
Typically, antique bricks were made on the site of the building that was being built. The color of the clay in the area would determine the color of the bricks, and each brick would be hand-shaped and laid out to dry in the hot Carolina sun. Nowadays, these antique bricks are coveted for their slightly irregular shapes and subtle hues.
Originally, the bricks on the house at Edwards Place were not slated to be salvaged. Scott Elferdink, the property developer, was on-site to supervise the demolition of the ranch house when he saw the old sand mortar still clinging to the bricks.
"As soon as I saw the sand on the bricks, I knew I could save them and repurpose them," says Elferdink. "The sand mortar kept the cement from sticking to the bricks, so I could gently tap them with a hammer to clean the cement off. The current plan is to design and build an outdoor fireplace and chimney out of the antique Charleston bricks for the homeowners to enjoy."
Saving the bricks is a time-intensive process that was not accounted for in the original development plan. So, it's a task Elferdink has taken on himself, working on it after work or on the weekends. Says Elferdink, "I've gotten my whole family involved. I've even recruited my sons and parents to help! It's important to me to keep as many connections to the history of the property as we can. I'm glad we can reuse and repurpose these bricks for the second time. Or maybe it's the third time. Only the bricks know for sure!"
One thing is certain, the antique brick fireplace will be a showstopper when the project is completed. Until then, the cleaning and stacking process continues as the bricks await their next chance to shine.