Stucco on residence on 1400 Block North Delaware Street

Stucco. Stucco is a type of plaster applied to the exterior of buildings. Stucco is a historic building material that traces its roots from ancient architecture. In historic American architecture, stucco is found on a variety of buildings, ranging in age, architectural style, and use – and is applied directly on masonry or wood frame structures. Stucco was particularly prominent in many of the revival styles of the late 19th and early 20th century, including Spanish Colonial Revival, Renaissance Revival, Mission, Tudor Revival, Art Deco, and Art Moderne. Stucco is most commonly employed on residential architecture, although it was used on apartment buildings, theaters, hotels, and more.

You might ask, what is stucco, exactly? Prior to 1900, most stuccos featured lime, sand, water, with some type of hair as a binder. After the invention of Portland cement in 1871, most stuccos after 1900 feature Portland cement with lime. However, regional or company variations of stucco provided some variety to the texture. Stucco could be used as a durable building covering, providing weather repellent and fire protection qualities. Stucco is a historic building material that can be particularly problematic without regular maintenance and repair; most notably leading to water damage in historic structures.

Stucco on St. James Apartments (2102 North Meridian Street)

Terracotta and Stucco detail, St. James Apartments

Let’s look at some examples of stucco throughout Indianapolis. Our first example takes us to the National Register of Historic Places listed St. James Apartments (2102 North Meridian St). The St. James dates from 1919 and is notable for the thick, unique, textured stucco that covers the exterior surface of the three-story apartment building. The American Pozzolana Company, an Indianapolis based company, may have completed the stucco on the St. James, as they produced this unique, heavy, stippled stucco surface. The application of stucco on this Renaissance Revival style apartment building is common for the style, while the St. James also features elaborate terracotta relief panels.

Advert for American Pozzolana Company, Stucco Manufacturer

Stucco on residence on 5800 Block North Delaware Street

A more typical presentation of stucco is found on this residential building in the 1400 Block of North Delaware Street (see above). The smooth stucco is a common use for this c. 1920s structure.  Another residence that features a smooth stucco application is the Spanish Eclectic house in the 5800 Block of North Delaware. The use of stucco with the Spanish revival styles is almost synonymous, so it is unsurprising to see this residence feature stucco exterior walls.

Add it to your vocabulary – how might one use today’s Building Language term in their everyday life?

We made sure to ensure the contractors patched and repaired the stucco to match the original in texture.

One response to “Building Language: Stucco”

  1. basil berchekas jr says:

    This article on stucco is excellent; love the description of how stucco developed…

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