Formstone would be banned on new buildings under proposal

The hand-crafted home siding, started in Baltimore, is prohibited eight times in proposed code

By Steve Kilar and Jean Marbella (The Baltimore Sun, 12/1/2012)

Frankly fake but authentically Baltimore, the Formstone that swaths many a rowhouse may seem low-brow or even tacky to some.

But should it be illegal?

A proposed overhaul of the Baltimore’s zoning code would do just that, banning the faux stone facades on any newly constructed rowhouses. While the city says this would upgrade neighborhoods, some see it as a slap at an endearing if downscale bit of Baltimoreana — akin to prohibiting Natty Boh at the corner bar or beehive hairdos at the beauty parlor.

Formstone plaque photo from Upper Fell’s Point Improvement Association

“Formstone is really part of the legacy of Baltimore City, along with marble steps and painted screens,” said Robert “Bob” Ibex, one of the last of the city’s original Formstone masons. “I don’t know why they would want to outlaw that.”

Called “the polyester of brick” by filmmaker John Waters, the artificial stone swept through many working-class Baltimore neighborhoods in the post-World War II years. The brand FormStone was patented by Baltimorean L. Albert Knight in 1937 and eventually became so popular that all hand-sculpted siding in town came to be called generically by its name.

Continue reading at “Formstone would be banned on new buildings under proposal” at The Baltimore Sun.

This entry was posted in Art, John Waters, Kitsch, Neighborhoods and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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