QUINCY, Ill. — Veteran bricklayer Jack Flachs felt uncomfortable living in a house made of wood, so he decided to do something about it.
It wasn't that Flachs needed a monument to his 40 years in the bricklaying trade; monuments like that dot this western Illinois city: churches, stores, a bank, an office building and even part of the Quincy College campus.
Flachs' own house, though, is a bit special by bricklaying standards.
Until recently, it was just a wooden house with a deteriorating porch that Flachs, 63, decided to rebuild with brick.
The porch took 6,000 bricks, but Flachs got a bit carried away. Before he stopped, he had used another 18,000 bricks completely redoing the exterior of the whole house.
"I didn't know what I was going to end up with," he said. "I started out with a porch and ended up doing everything. It is just something I wanted to do. I've lived here so many years, I'm getting too old to move away."
Flachs got help from his sons, Pat, Paul and Jeff, but says his wife, Wanda, thought the whole project was "a crazy idea."
It took Flachs about three years to complete the work, a part-time project all the way. The last brick was put in place this summer.
The porch has five large arches--two windows and a doorway facing the front and one facing each side. Between the porch and the sidewalk are two rectangular flower boxes.
On the west wall of the house, he fashioned an intricate herringbone pattern in the shape of an arched window. There also are two circle designs and three flower ledges attached to the house, supported by jutting brick bases.
"It is a one-of-a-kind house," said one of his sons, Pat, also a bricklayer. "There's never going to be another built like it."
Flachs didn't rely on blueprints--just on a trowel, a hammer and a four-foot level. He didn't cut a single brick.
Flachs says he is proud of the fact that there are no cracks in any of the walls built, and that he paid for the materials as he went.
Flachs' plans for other projects, including demolishing the wooden house he owns next to his home and replacing it with a brick garage, have been put on hold since he retired this year due to ill health.