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Must-See RVA! — Mankin Mansion

A look into the history of Richmond places that are still part of our landscape.



AKA Irvin Place, Brickworks
4300 Oakleys Lane
Built, 1924
Architect, Edward Thurston Mankin
VDHR 043-0068

E. T. Mankin – Man of 1000 Bricks

Mankin Mansion, constructed in 1924, with its dependent buildings and landscaped yard defined by brick walks, walls, and structures, presents a complex exercise in brick making and brick masonry. The house manifests Edward T. Mankin’s idiosyncratic interpretation of the Georgian Revival style, while the brickwork throughout the complex displays samples of Mankin’s brick manufactures and construction work from 1924 through the early 1930s.

(VDHR) — 1993 nomination photo

Edward T. Mankin set up a brick manufacturing facility on Oakleys Lane about 2.2 miles east of the City of Richmond in 1903. Shortly after 1900 Mankin had formed a partnership with George Burroughs, who was already in business. Burroughs died not long after the partnership was established, and Mankin bought out the Burroughs family’s interest in the business. Mankin set up the brick manufacturing machinery that had been ordered for the partnership venture, and carried out production under the name E. T. Mankin, Inc. ‘Manbur’, an appellation formed from the two men’s last names, was the name assigned to the brickyard’s railroad siding by the Southern Railway Company.

March 2018

Mankin developed a strong commitment to the craft of brick-making. He built up the level of production to about twenty-five million bricks a year, most of which were machine made, and had two separate brick works on the Oakleys Lane site, where about eight round kilns and four to six square kilns were kept busy.“

March 2018

Mankin, who remained intensely involved in his brick-making business throughout his career and routinely kept long hours at the brickyard, stayed during the week at his plant on Oakleys Lane in a two to three room brick building, complete with a concrete tub built into the cement floor. The difficulty of commuting daily from his work place into Richmond with early twentieth-century modes of transportation was rendered nearly impossible by the fact that Mankin never learned to drive automobile made the site ideal for brick manufacturing, undoubtedly brought about his decision to establish his family’s residence immediately adjacent to his brickworks.

March 2018

The Mankin Mansion residential complex and the brickworks were interrelated on both aesthetic and practical levels, beyond serving as a demonstration of brickmaking and brick-building. The house and its dependencies utilized coal for fuel, as did the kilns in the brick yard. The man-made pond across Oakleys Lane from the Mankin residence was created by removing clay for brick-making. This pond and the reservoir beside it served as a water source for Mankin’s business, while the pond was also an aesthetic and recreational feature enjoyed by his family.

(Wikimedia) — Jamestown Church, showing courses of replacement bricks

By the 1920s Mankin had become intrigued by the manufacture of hand-formed wood-mold bricks, and began to specialize in this type. He supplied this ‘colonial’ type of brick, made according to colonial brick-making techniques, for the restoration of Williamsburg and for Jamestown Church, and he matched the existing bricks at Stratford Hall, Carter’s Grove, and other colonial houses in Virginia for repair work. Mankin also supplied hand-formed brick for Silliman College at Yale University and for the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Other buildings known to have been constructed of Mankin brick include the original Virginia Museum of Fine Arts building, and the Medical College of Virginia, both in Richmond; buildings at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville; Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, New York; and Oldfields, a residence in Oyster Bay, New York.

(Portland Monthly) — William Lawrence Bottomley

Mankin bricks were used locally by W. D. Duke, a Richmond contractor who employed Mankin’s products over a period of twenty to twenty-five years, and by the architect William Lawrence Bottomley. Mankin had competitors in the production of hand-formed brick, including Locher Brick Company in Glasgow, Virginia but Edward Mankin had come to be considered an artist in the craft of brick-making.

He gained a reputation as a harsh task-master, and as an absolute perfectionist who refused to sell bricks that he found unsatisfactory or to compromise in order to accommodate a potential client.

Mankin’s skill in the production of custom-made bricks was enhanced through experiments that he carried out to achieve specific colors of brick. By using different shades of sand and clay, apparently dug from the Oakleys Lane property, and by changing the fuel employed for firing, Mankin was able to create bricks in various colors. Mankin usually used coal for baking his bricks, but he did sometimes use wood, and even experimented with utilizing tires as fuel for the kilns. Controlled variations in the kilns’ temperatures also effected the appearance of Mankin’s bricks, and Mankin became adept at regulating the degree of heat without thermostats. Mankin is known to have preferred-the meticulous and demanding work of creating custom bricks for restoration projects to the large-scale production of bricks. His company also crafted special forms in brick, sometimes using wooden molds constructed by a cabinetmaker.


A suggestion of the variety of bricks produced by E. T. Mankin, Inc., is evident throughout the Mankin residential complex. Mankin’s house and its dependencies were constructed of medium- to deep-red-colored bricks, as were the brick walls, pergola, and benches that pattern the grounds. The brick walks were laid with rectangular bricks, and with large square paving bricks. Decorative effects were achieved by manipulating bricks to form curves, recessed panels, and architectural details including cornices, pilasters, pediments, arches, parapets, and contrasting brickwork borders. The dependencies around Mankin Mansion have varying degrees of ornamentation ranging from the fairly elaborate gardener’s cottage to the farmer’s house and the barn, but in each building it appears that Mankin developed the design primarily in answer to the building’s function. (VDHR)

After Edward T. Mankin’s death in 1951, The Mankin Mansion residential complex subsequently was sold four more times before its purchase by the present owners. Through these changes in ownership, the property has been little altered, only experiencing updates in the heating system and the loss of some decorative details from the house’s interior.

Today it’s a Wedding Resort and a B&B.

March 2015 — Farmer’s Cottage

Mankin Mansion, its dependencies, and its setting are the manifestation of Edward T. Mankin’s personal architectural design ideas, and his achievements in brick-making and brick construction. The house’s idiosyncratic interpretation of the Georgian Revival style incorporates unusual design ideas while maintaining a slightly regional flavor. Mankin’s resolute, aggressive and individualistic personality, which determined the course of his professional career, is also evident in the Mankin Mansion complex. Mankin chose the architectural design ideas that he found appealing, elaborated upon them to suit his needs, and executed them in a virtuoso display of brick construction.

March 2018

The bricks produced at Mankin’s facility gained widespread regional recognition, as they were used for several buildings in the Richmond area, for restoration work at Williamsburg and other of Virginia’s historic sites, and for many other diverse construction projects primarily in the mid-Atlantic and northeast. (VDHR)

(Mankin Mansion is part of the Atlas RVA Project)


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