Buildings and construction, esp as an item of expenditure and administrative emphasis for an institution (1850s+)
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D. Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers. Cite This Source
Idioms and Phrases with bricks and mortar
Basic and essential, as in Matthew Arnold's essay (1865): “Margate, that bricks-and-mortar image of British Protestantism.” This phrase transfers essential building materials to other fundamental matters. It also may be used more literally to denote a building or buildings (whether or not made of bricks and mortar), as in The alumni prefer to see their donations in the form of bricks and mortar.