Mark Ihrcke, one of three master masons working on the restoration of the brickwork for The Bend, has a theory: Most masons of yesteryear and today leave a hidden signature on buildings they work on.
And he thinks he has found the historical marker amidst the intricate brick work on the façade of the Historic West Bend Theatre that was built 90 years ago.
It’s not easy to pick out. But it’s there. Take a look next time you are walking around downtown.
Look high up on the south wall just around the corner from the front façade. The pattern of bricks is called a basket weave; the vertical bricks are called soldiers and horizontals the roof. Look for the pattern design and color and then see if you can find it.
“Sometimes the masons just signed the back of a brick and dated it,” he said. “Sometimes they left a mark or signed the front side of one brick.”
Or maybe, they just ran out of bricks or the right color on The Bend, he said. But he doesn’t think so. He thinks the signature was meant to be there.
He and his two fellow masons from Advance Restoration, Joe Mannes and Pedro Crivelli, are proud of their tuck-pointing. Their goal is to match the old mortar color and bricks needing replacement so the observer can’t tell their work from the original masonry.