Road Trip: An Orphaned Wall

by Don Friedman on October 16, 2017

Seen on the street in Ottawa…

I’ve mentioned orphans walls once before. They are what’s left when old walls are incorporated into new buildings in a manner that makes it difficult or impossible to demolish the wall when the original building is demolished.

In this case, the light-red wall with white trim obviously belonged to a building that used to be on the lot in the right half of this photo. Judging by the architectural style, that building was probably built between 1890 and 1920. The brown brick building on the left was built later, probably in the 20s or 30s. You can see that the brown brick extends over the red brick, suggesting that the red brick may have built as a party wall, straddling the property line. I’m reasonably certain that the red brick wall is acting as the enclosure wall for the lower stories of the brown building.

Then the red brick building was demolished, but this wall had to stay, or else the interior of the brown building would become exposed to the outside world. The modern glass and tan-brick building was constructed adjacent to the red brick wall but not using as part of the new building. And, there we go!, we have an orphan wall.

It looks strange (most orphaned walls are hidden from view by the front facades) and it’s an unfortunate situation, but there’s little that can be done about it. As I described in my previous blog post, the problems come when these walls are not connected to the newer buildings and therefore are inadequately braced.

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