Facebook page snaps secret life of bricks

“Mysterious Brickwork” posts photos of unique brick patterns around campus. Part one of two: The Old Laundry Building wall before its repairs. / Courtesy of Mysterious Brickwork of Vassar College via Facebook

Vassar has many mysteries: the elusive squirrel on campus without a tail, leading students to wonder at his origins; the mystical, luck-bearing womp womps; the haunted basements of the less reputable dorms; and the fascinating brickwork of the buildings on campus. The eccentric brickwork of the college is an often overlooked aspect of the Vassar experience, however one student took it upon themselves to reveal the hidden wonder lurking right under our noses. If you had scarcely guessed at the existence of the Facebook page “Mysterious Brickwork at Vassar College,” then you are in for a treat.

In the depths of one of Vassar’s many haunted basements, a brick enthusiast is updating this architectural journal regularly for the campus’ delight. Does this brickwork connoisseur have a bright future designing New York skyscrapers in a not-too-distant future?

There is a level of intrigue and mystique surrounding the anonymous curator of the “Mysterious Brickwork” page. The next student you see taking a picture of the campus may not be an amateur photographer after all, nor may they be a keen Snapchatter. You may be in fact glimpsing a master at work. Using our intel, the Misc managed to secure an interview with Vassar’s gatekeeper of strange and enchanting oddities.

The Miscellany News: How did you get the idea for Mysterious Brickwork at Vassar College?

Mysterious Brickwork (MB): I got the idea from seeing all the brickwork around campus that I found to be mysterious. There was so much that made sense, like general patching, but also so much that I couldn’t figure out, like the bricks above every window in Joss.

So I made the page in the hopes that other people would have the answers, and in some cases they have! And in others, I have provided explanations like with my big post on the front of Main around Halloween. I just wanted to document all the architectural quirks we see and take for granted each day.

The Misc: What’s your process for uploading pictures and making them into posts?

MB: When I spot some brickwork that meets my requirements, I photograph it and add it to the “brickwork” album in the photos on my phone. Sometimes I plan to photograph it and then come back and take photos later if I am feeling lazy when I spot it. Then each day I choose a photo or set of related photos to post.

I never do the same building twice in a row, so sometimes if all the brickwork in my phone is from one building I have to go scout out some new content for the day.

Then I add a caption describing what makes the brickwork mysterious and positing some explanations. After posting, I delete the photo from my phone so I don’t use it again by accident.

The Misc: Do you try to post at a certain rate, or does it depend more on if you run into some brickwork you want to post?

MB: I post daily. Once I left the library because I had to get a photo for the day before it got too dark. It was pouring rain but I was not going to miss a day. However I do not post during breaks.

The Misc: What do you want viewers of the page to get out of it?

MB: Hopefully they start to think more about the histories of the buildings we use every day, and how they have changed over time.

One thing that really interests me is how renovations leave behind details about how the building used to look, while at the same time covering many of them up. And brickwork is just one aspect of that. Also I hope people think it’s funny.

The Misc: How would you describe your experience with the page so far and what have you gotten out of it?

MB: I really like running the page and am honestly surprised by how many people have liked it. One thing I am worried about is just the sheer volume of brickwork to document, and I am very fearful about accidentally posting the same piece of brickwork twice.

The Misc: Which comments or messages to the page have been the most memorable?

MB: I have been asked out on a date. That same person then told me weeks later that they had listed me (the page) for senior scramble.

Someone else once messaged me after my post about the front of Main and we had a huge conversation about the history of Main that went on for a couple of hours and the person sent me a bunch of archival photos I had not seen before.

The author accompanied the photo featured above with the following caption: “This brick on the quad side of Lathrop? Iconic … Me trying to hold it together before break.” / Courtesy of Mysterious Brickwork of Vassar College via Facebook
The accompanying caption reads: “They have finally gotten around to patching the hole. This makes this the first post on this website to document a before and after of a brickwork repair.” / Courtesy of Mysterious Brickwork of Vassar College via Facebook

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