Ozark Giraffe Rock
architectural exteriors are a common sight
along Route 66
in the Ozarks region of the United States, as they were a popular building choice
between 1910 - 1940
. The construction materials for giraffe rock exteriors were inexpensive and produced locally from materials found in plentiful supply in the Ozark Mountains, and the style was most predominant on small houses, usually bungalows.
Ozark giraffe rock gets its name from the stone pattern of the exterior. Local stone, usually limestone or sandstone, would be split into thin slabs. The resulting pieces would be of inconsistent size and shape, and were pieced together (like a crazy quilt
) with thick mortar joints
. The mortar could be concave or convex, and was often painted. The contrast between the painted mortar and the gray/brown stone slabs would look like the pattern on a giraffe's coat
This exterior pattern meant that all of the procured slab rock could be used in the construction process, and little would go to waste. It was a practical and thrifty choice for a region mostly populated by farmers, ranchers, miners, loggers, and others in the working class.
In the Ozark region
, which includes parts of Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma (as well as a tiny bit of Kansas), Ozark giraffe is a common exterior on older homes built in the first half of the twentieth century. The exteriors were found on community
and commercial buildings
in addition to residential homes
. On some homes, a combination
of giraffe rock and stucco (or other building materials) was used. Generally, it was a practical, low-cost exterior made with locally-available materials. Ozark giraffe houses are usually small and modest, often bungalows
The origin of Ozark giraffe has its roots in the Arts and Crafts movement
, which encouraged the visibility of handicraft and local, natural materials. The style fell out of favor in the latter half of the twentieth century. In the US, larger homes and structures with a clean, modern look were favored. Many of the original Ozark Giraffe homes and buildings have since been torn down.
For more pictures of Ozark giraffe rock exteriors, take a look at this series by James Radke
, a photographer based in Springfield, Missouri. (Scroll down a bit.)