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CALIFORNIA BRICKS


Bergemann's Paradise Yard

History


Map of Bergemann's brickyard
Map showing the location of Bergemann's brickyard, labeled as Beckerman's
Brick Yard, at Paradise Cove, Tiburon. From Plat Map of Austin, 1869.

Frederick August Bergemann was born about 1823 in Germany. He was naturalized in San Francisco on January 5, 1853. On the 1869 map of Rancho Corte Madera del Presidio are shown two brickyards on the north side of the Tiburon Peninsula labeled as "Beckerman's Brick Yard," in Marin County, California. This is believed to be a misspelling, as were "Beckennan," "Begerman," and "Begeman" in other articles. The two brickyards were about a half mile apart. The eastern brickyard was at the present site of the Romberg Tiburon Center. The western brickyard was at the north end of the present Paradise Park in Paradise Cove. The description here will be about the brickyard at Paradise Cove.

Little is known about the Bergemann brickyard at Paradise Cove. The site of the brickyard is now a private residence on the bay shore. All evidence of the brickyard is gone except for the bricks littering the beach. Bergemann started this brickyard in the 1860s, probably operating both brickyards simultaneously.

From the bricks, it appears that Bergemann used the soft-mud process, probably wooden molds, to form his bricks. The material was not crushed or screened. The bricks were probably fired in field kilns.

In 1870, the brickyard employed 10 German laborers. It is likely that these bricks were consumed locally in Marin County. A business directory indicates that this brickyard was still in operation as late as 1875 and possibly as late as 1880. The yard closed prior to June 1880, as suggested by the absence of Bergemann and his brickyard in the 1880 census records. The nearby ruins of a powder magazine building was built about 1878, according to Parker Pringle, appears to be made of Bergemann's brick.

Bergemann's Paradise Brick

Sand-struck pale orange-red to orange, uniform in color. Form is straight and even with dull edges and corners. Bottom face is smooth and even containing no maker's marks. Top face is pitted, rough, with longitudinal grooves. Sides display transverse striations, stack indentations, cracks, and a 1/2 inch thick lip around the top edges. Light yellow flashings are seen on some of the bricks and some bricks were burnt to a reddish brown color. The orange interior clay body contains about 30 percent clasts up to 3/4 inch across and 3 percent pores up to 1/4 inch in diameter. The clasts include about 20 percent subrounded red sandstone and about 10 percent angular red to white chert; the red chert contains white veins. The size of the brick varies in width and height, and probably also in length, but most of the bricks were not complete for full measurements. This brick was made by a hand-molded, soft-mud process. Length 8 1/4, width 3 1/4 - 4, height 2 - 2 1/8 inches.

Bergemann brick face
View of a face of the Bergemann Paradise brick. Red chert and sandstone clasts are visible.

Bergemann brick side
View of a side of the Bergemann Paradise brick.

References

Austin, H., Plat of the Rancho Corte Madera del Presidio, April 1869.

Federal Census Records, 1870.

Federal Census Records, 1880.

Great Register of Marin County, 1880.

Langley, Henry G., The Pacific Coast Business Directory for 1876-78, San Francisco, 1875.

Pringle, Parker, written communications, 2011.

Copyright 2010 Dan Mosier

Contact Dan Mosier at danmosier@earthlink.net.