California brick

Claude Callot


Escalle Winery Claude Callot was born in France in 1833. He immigrated to the United States in 1852 and became naturalized. His wife's name was Ellen. He was a French baker turned brickmaker. By 1870, we find Callot in Marin County, California, working at the Biggins brickyard on Corte Madera Creek near Ross Landing, now part of Kentfield.

In 1874, Callot leased property from Patrick King, a large dairy rancher in Larkspur, and started his own brickyard across the creek from the Biggins brickyard. The Callot brickyard was located at 771 Magnolia Avenue, Larkspur, where the Escalle winery building presently stand. Callot dug clay from the hillside behind the buildings. The clay was thrown into wooden molds to form bricks and the sand-struck bricks were fired in field kilns. In 1879, Callot purchased the brickyard property from King. By 1880, Callot had eight laborers manufacturing common red brick. The bricks were used locally, but most were shipped out of Ross Landing to San Francisco. The Callot brickyard produced two million bricks per year.

In 1881, Jean Escalle, a friend of Callot, arrived from France to help out at the brickyard. When demand for brick in the mid-1880s declined, the property turned to winemaking under Escalle. A popular inn and recreational resort was built on the property and a train station nearby was named for Escalle. Claude Callot died on April 2, 1888, at the age of 54 years, after a short illness at the French Hospital in San Francisco.

Today, the Limerick Inn stands next to Magnolia Avenue. This building is made of Callot brick in standard and wedge shapes.

Callot brick
Standard and wedge shaped bricks were made by Callot for the Limerick Inn building.
The bricks were painted so they are not showing the true color of the brick.

Callot Brick

Common brick is pale red, mostly uniform in color. The surface is sand-struck. The edges are straight and nearly sharp and corners are dull. The sides are flat and even, some displaying a 1/8 inch lip around the top edge. Some bricks have a longitudinal ridge on one side, probably resulting from stacking. The bottom face is flat and even. The top face is pitted with either transverse or longitudinal strike marks. The top is 1/8 inch wider than the bottom. Interior clay body contains about 20 percent subangular red chert and minor white quartz up to 1/4 inch across in a porous clay body. This brick was made using the sand-molded, soft-mud process. Length 8 3/8, width 4, height 2 1/2 inches.

Callot brick
Callot brick in the Limerick Inn building, Larkspur.

Callot brick
Side view of a Callot brick.

Callot brick
Top face of a Callot brick.

Callot brick
End view of a Callot brick. Note the top is wider than the bottom.

Callot brick
Interior view of a Callot brick.


Federal Census Records, 1870.

Federal Census Records, 1880.

Federal Census Records, 1900.

Marin Journal, April 5, 1888.

Moss, Jocelyn, Marin History Museum librarian, San Rafael, 2007.

San Francisco Call, Bricks, 1882.

Spitz, Barry, Marin A History, Potrero Meadow Publishing, 2006.

The Larkspur Heritage Committee. Larkspur Past and Present, A History and Walking Guide, 1991.

Copyright 2007 Dan Mosier

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