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CALIFORNIA BRICKS


Baden Brick Company

History

The Baden Brick Company was organized in January 1896. They purchased 24 acres of land on the north side of San Bruno Point, east of South San Francisco. The brick plant was constructed from January to August 1896 under the supervision of W. K. Wallace and from August 1896 under the supervision of Thomas Butler. During the time Wallace was in charge, the local newspaper referred to the brick yard as the Wallace Brickyard. The Baden Brick Company dredged a canal for a seaside dock, erected a boarding house and small houses for its employees, erected a series of drying sheds, 235 feet in length by 165 feet in width, a field kiln, an oval shaped brick kiln 100 feet in length inside a shed 100 by 200 feet, an engine house, four pug mills, and a patent continuous kiln with a brick smokestake 150 feet in height.

The company's office was first located at 40 New Montgomery Street in San Francisco and, in 1905, it was moved to 927 Market Street. Initially, hand-molded bricks probably fired in field kilns were made until May 1898, when a continuous-cutting, stiff-mud machine and Hoffman kilns were installed. During the nine years of operation, the Baden Brick Company manufactured over 20 million red common, repressed, stock, and hollow bricks, supplying the local and San Francisco markets.

Baden brick ad
Baden brick advertisement from the Enterprise Journal. Courtesy of
South San Francisco Public Library Local History Collection.


A gritty yellow clay was mined on the property. The clay was elevated by a tramway from the clay pit to the bins. A pug mill mixed and tempered the clay, which was then fed through a continuous cutting, stiff-mud machine, with a capacity of 75,000 bricks per day. The green bricks were dried in two large drying sheds utilizing steam for heat, with a capacity of 25,000 bricks per day. When ready, the green bricks were fired in two 16-compartment Hoffman kilns, using oil as fuel. Two tall round chimneys provided the draft from the kilns. The bricks were shipped on schooners at the company's wharf and by rail.

Baden red bricks were used in the first brick business building erected by Herman Gaerdes on Grand Avenue in South San Francisco in 1898. Baden bricks were also used in the Lind Meat Market at 221-223 Grand Avenue, as well as the brick stack at the Steiger Pottery, the buildings of W.P. Fuller Paint Company, all of South San Francisco, and The Ghiradelli and other buildings in San Francisco. Examples of the first Baden common bricks shown below came from the Fuller warehouse, built in 1898 and demolished in 1993. No bricks were produced between 1900 and 1902, when the company agreed to cease production under the orders of the local Brick Manufacturers Trust, of which it was a member. In 1903, the plant produced 1,500,000 brick. In 1904, the plant was upgraded with electricity for power, a new kiln with a capacity of 300,000 brick, and the installation of a Fate brick machine for manufacturing hollow bricks.

The Baden brick plant shut down permanently in 1906. In February 1907, the Alexander Brick and Terra Cotta Company attempted to reopen the Baden plant, under the direction of Robert Alexander of Alameda. The company's office was located at 58 Second St., San Francisco. Improvements were made to the wharf and new machinery was placed. But operations halted in October 1907, when the C.W. Raymond Company of Oakland attached the brick plant for failure to pay for the machinery supplied by them. Evidently, no bricks were produced by the Alexander Brick and Terra Cotta Company. The plant was razed shortly after the property was disposed of in 1919.

Baden brickyard
View of the Baden brick plant on San Bruno Point, South San Francisco.
Courtesy of South San Francisco Public Library Local History Collection.

Baden Hoffman kilns
View of the Baden brick plant's 16-compartment Hoffman kilns, c. 1905.
Courtesy of South San Francisco Public Library Local History Collection.


Baden bricks in the Lind building in South San Francisco
Baden bricks can be seen in the rear of the old Lind Meat Market
building at 223 Grand Ave., South San Francisco. These bricks
were among the first made by the company in 1898.

Baden Brick

Baden Repressed Brick

Red repressed brick has a compact, smooth surface of a stiff-mud extrusive process. The color is uniform and may display tiny white and black clasts, rounded and up to 1/4 inch across, and rare shell fragments. The clay body is also full of quartz sand and a round black mineral (magnetite?). Both faces display curved wire-cut marks on a pitted surface. The edges may have repressed markings. The sides and ends may have transverse extrusion grooves and stack indentions. Length 8, width 4, height 2 3/8 inches.

Baden repressed brick bat
Face of a Baden repressed brick bat from the plant site displaying
the curved wire-cut marks of the extruded brick.

Baden repressed brick bat
End of a Baden repressed brick bat displaying
the transverse extrusion grooves.


Baden repressed brick bat
Side of a Baden repressed brick bat displaying
the smooth surface and stack indentions.


Baden repressed brick bat
Interior of a Baden repressed brick bat displaying
white and black clasts in a fine clay body.



Baden Common Brick

Common brick is orange red to dark pale red, with smooth water-struck surface. The color is uniform to mottled. The surface may display round white clay, black iron oxides, well-rounded red and yellow chert, and rare shell fragments, as much as 1/2 inch in diameter. Form is irregular with dull edges and corners. The sides have minor pits and some have 1/4 inch thick lip across the top edge. Stack indentations may be present in different directions. The ends on some display lips along the short edges. The top face displays a rough pitted surface. The interior contains about 10 percent of the above mentioned clasts in a porous sandy clay body. This brick was made using the soft mud process. Brick sizes vary. Length 8 - 8 1/2, width 4, height 2 1/4 - 2 1/2 inches.

View of the side of a Baden common brick.
View of the side of a Baden common brick.

View of the side of a Baden common brick.
View of the side of a Baden common brick.

View of the side of a Baden common brick.
View of the side of a Baden common brick displaying red and yellow chert pebbles and round white clay.

View of the side of a Baden common brick.
View of the end of a Baden common brick displaying lips along both short edges.

Baden brick bat
View of the top face of a Baden common brick bat from the plant site showing
part of the pitted surface and broken interior.



References

Aubrey, Lewis E., The Structural and Industrial Materials of California, California State Mining Bureau Bulletin 38, 1906, p. 255-256.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 20, no. 1, 1904, p. 3.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 21, no. 1, 1904, p. 37.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 21, no. 3, 1904, p. 121.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 21, no. 5, 1904, p. 215.

Enterprise Journal, Feb. 2, 1907.

Enterprise Journal, June 13, 1919.

Enterprise Journal, May 30, 1908.

Enterprise Journal, Nov. 2, 1907.

Kay, Kathleen, Pers. com., South San Francisco Library Local History Collection, 2005.

Redwood City Democrat, Oct. 31, 1907.

San Francisco City Directories, 1900-1908.

San Mateo Leader, April 11, 1906.

San Mateo Times-Gazette, July 23, 1898.

San Mateo Times-Gazette, June 25, 1898.

San Mateo Times-Gazette, Sept. 10, 1898.

South San Francisco Enterprise, 1895-1897.

Copyright 2005 Dan Mosier

Contact Dan Mosier at danmosier@earthlink.net.