Insulbrick covered many of the homes in western Pennsylvania homes. Many of the board covered homes were built without insulation. Homeowners chose to use this tar impregnated fiber paper to seal cracks and to add a layer of insulation to their houses. The tarpaper was coated with brown, gray, or the most favorite color red minerals. The minerals were applied in patterns of brick or cut stone. Insulbrick came in rolls like tar paper roofing and was nailed to the house.
I can remember the house my mom and dad bought had the brown Insulbrick paper covering it. The house was little more than a cottage that my father and his father expanded over the years to accommodate our families’ needs. The house of our neighbors’ was covered in the gray cut-stone pattern.
Other buildings I remember were the ones my grandfather Edson Thomas Beck helped to build. My grandfather’s home was covered in the brown Insulbrick, while my aunt and uncle Strawderman’s house was covered in the red brick mineral paper.
The last two Insulbrick covered buildings I will remember and will share are churches. One was located just at the edge of the coal mining town of Melcroft, Pennsylvania. It was located along Route 711 on the right driving from Indian Head. It was a two story Pentecostal church that had theater seats. My grandfather preached there often.
The other was another Pentecostal church that he built and preached in on Route 31 driving from Jones Mills to Somerset. It still stands near the summit, but is now covered in boards and was a pizza joint the last I knew.