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Looking for a hole in the wall

July 20, 2006|Christy Hobart

QUESTION: Thanks for the article on houses designed by architect Edward H. Fickett [June 29]. In the cover photo of one of the houses, a concrete block privacy wall with decorative circular holes is featured. I have been searching for that exact block for a couple of years -- to no avail. Do you have any idea where it can be purchased?

PETER WALSH

Sherman Oaks

ANSWER: Like you, we have not been able to locate a manufacturer or a supplier still making the concrete blocks with graphic circular cutouts. "Concrete screen blocks fell out of favor years ago," says Clive Christie, a mason who says he used them to build a lot of walls back in the 1950s and '60s.

Dick Sands, a salesman for the last 41 years at Angelus Block Co. Inc., a block manufacturer based in Sun Valley, also watched demand decline. "We discontinued our screen blocks long ago," he says, noting that he vaguely recalls an old model with round cutouts. Angelus still produces large blocks, 12 inches by 12 inches and 4 inches thick, in what the company calls a "rabbit-ear" pattern, he says, which is special-ordered by Wal-Mart for its stores. "You could have some custom-made," he offers, "but you'd need a mold, there'd be a set-up charge and minimum order of 150 blocks. It could be expensive. I'd try to talk someone out of that."

Though some companies, such as Young Block Co. in Tucson, continue to manufacture certain styles of screen blocks, the designs are far from chic. Landscape architect Paul Morse suggests another tack, picked up while researching the subject in an old Sunset book from the 1960s: "Buy ordinary concrete blocks with holes cut for rebar, turn them on their sides, stack them and build a wall."

-- Christy Hobart

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