“Belt course” is an architectural term to describe a row of stone or brick, set into the facade or side of a building, used to accentuate a sill line or a separation in floors. The rowhouses on Eager Street feature belt courses made of marble slabs. These slabs sit just above the marble stoops, and are meant to create a visible dividing line between first floor and basement.
As you can see in the photo above, the belt course sits atop a course of brick. The marble slabs were fastened with a touch of mortar, though not the hefty amount you’d expect; it seems as though the belt course was held firmly in place by the surrounding masonry, leaving little need for an adhesive.
The belt courses on Eager Street were purely decorative, with the bright white of the marble playing nicely off the red of the face brick. (This contrast is less pronounced in houses covered with Formstone). The marble slabs featured a slight top bevel and stood about an inch proud of the brick, creating slight shadows that further accentuated the separation of floors. These subtle plays with light and surface were minor aesthetic cues that hinted at the deeper concern of prestige: the belt course was but one way of signifying that a particular row was especially well-built, and therefore suited to a certain clientele. A dedicated post on what makes Eager Street different from some its neighboring streets is coming, but for now, suffice it to say that not all of the homes in the Milton-Montford neighborhood have slabs of marble running across them.