California brick
CALIFORNIA BRICKS


Consolidated Brick and Tile Company

History


In 1930, three Los Angeles area brick companies merged into a single company called the Consolidated Brick and Tile Company, with its main office at 816 West Fifth Street in Los Angeles. The three companies included the Santa Monica Brick Company in Santa Monica, the Western Brick Company in Long Beach, and the California Brick and Tile Company in Van Nuys, California. The officers of the company were G.A. Wild as president, K.A. Miller as vice-president, E.A. Douglas as secretary-treasurer, and F.W. Parr as assistant secretary. Little is known about this brick company and so this brief history has been pieced together from bits of information, including some field evidence.

It appears that the main operating plant of the Consolidated Brick and Tile Company was located at 23rd Street and Michigan Avenue in Santa Monica, where the best deposit of clay for making brick and tile was formerly worked by the Santa Monica Brick Company. It may have been the original plan of the company to mine clay and make products at all three of their plants, and they probably did for a short time, until the declining brick market forced the company to streamline its operations, eventually closing the plants at Long Beach and Van Nuys. It is possible that both the Western Brick Company clay pit at Long Beach and the California Brick and Tile Company clay pit at Van Nuys supplemented the clay that went into making the final products at the Santa Monica plant. The clays would have been easily transported by rail or truck from Van Nuys and Long Beach to the Santa Monica plant. But this would also seem unnecessary as Santa Monica had the best clay deposit and is probably the reason the company kept the Santa Monica brickyard open.

The products of the company were reported to be common brick, hollow building tile, and crude clay. Samples found at the brickyard site by Roy Steege indicate that this plant also made wire-cut face brick and ruffle (rug) brick. They probably also produced red floor tile and roofing tile, as the Santa Monica plant was already equipped to make these products. These products were likely shipped by rail and trucks throughout the Los Angeles area in the four years of operation.

The Santa Monica plant was on 10 acres of land. The clay was a plastic, red-burning clay, at least 75 feet thick. The clay was mined by a power shovel and loaded into cars operated by an endless cable hoist. The plant contained a 60-horsepower 24-inch by 24-inch American disintegrator; a 150-horsepower American auger machine, with a capacity of 75,000 brick per day; an American automatic brick cutter; a 40-horsepower Fate-Root-Heath roofing-tile auger, with a capacity of 10,000 tile per day; and a hand-operated roofing-tile cutter. It had a hot-air tunnel drier, 10 up-draft field kilns, using both natural gas and steam-atomized oil. Four kilns had a capacity of 500,000 brick each, five kilns had a capacity of 15,000 roofing tile each, and one kiln had a capacity of 1,000 square feet of floor tile. The firing temperature was approximately cone 07 (975 degrees C, 1787 degrees F). The plant employed 60 men, producing 75,000 bricks per day and 100 square feet of roofing tile per day.

It is not known exactly when the three plants shut down. Near the end of its operation, the company had moved its office to 2600 Colorado Blvd. in Santa Monica. The company was last listed in 1934, so that may have been the last year of operation. Eventually the clay pit was filled and the site was developed over by a modern industrial park.

Consolidated Brick and Tile Company Brick

Common Brick

Consolidated Brick and Tile Company common brick is dark orange-red and uniform in color. The surface is smooth, but granular in places with minor pits. The sides are smooth and flat with no marks, but minor pits and a few visible quartz. The edges are straight and sharp. Corners are sharp if not broken. The top face is smooth with a faint longitudinal strike and minor pits and visible quartz. The bottom face is granular and flat. Marked bottom face has a rectangular frog with beveled sides that is 5 1/2 inches in length, 2 inches in width, and 3/16 in depth. The company abbreviation CBTCo is in raised block letters that span 4 1/2 inches in length and 1 inch in height, except for the lower case "o" which is 1/2 inch in height. The letters are 1/8 inch thick. The interior contains about 3 percent subangular, gray, translucent quartz, less than 1/8 inch in diameter, rounded shale as much as 1/4 inch across, and tiny specks of black iron oxide, in a porous, orange-red, fine, sandy clay body. This brick was made using the soft-mud process and water struck. Length 7 7/8, width 3 5/8, height 2 1/2 inches.

View of the marked face of the Consolidated Brick and Tile Company common brick.
View of the marked face of the Consolidated Brick and Tile Company common brick.

View of the side of the Consolidated Brick and Tile Company common brick.
View of the side of the Consolidated Brick and Tile Company common brick.

View of the rough top face of the Consolidated Brick and Tile Company common brick.
View of the rough top face of the Consolidated Brick and Tile Company common brick. Gray material is remnant mortar.


View of the interior of the Consolidated Brick and Tile Company common brick.
View of the interior of the Consolidated Brick and Tile Company common brick.


Microscopic view of the interior of the Consolidated Brick and Tile Company common brick.
Microscopic view of the interior of the Consolidated Brick and
Tile Company common brick (50x, field of view is 1/4 inch).


Wire-Cut Face Brick

This Consolidated Brick and Tile Company wire-cut face brick was found at the Santa Monica plant site by Roy Steege, so I will describe it here where it was probably made. It is orange-red and somewhat mottled in color, with faint lighter shades of flash on the sides. The surface is smooth and on this example shows cracks, splitting, and some deformation, indicating that this was a reject from the kiln. The sides have no lip. The faces display curved wire-cut marks and a velour texture. This brick is not marked with a brand name. The edges are straight and sharp. Corners were broken. The interior clay body is a compact red clay, darker than the surface, and nearly vitrified, making this a hard and compact brick. In the clay can be seen tiny specks of white quartz and black iron, less than 1/32 inch in size. These clasts constitute about 5 percent of the clay. This brick was made using the extruded, wire-cut, stiff mud process. Length 8, width 3 3/4, height 2 1/4 inches.

Consolidated Brick and Tile Company face brick
View of the face of the Consolidated Brick and Tile Company face brick showing the wire-cut marks.


Consolidated Brick and Tile Company face brick
View of the side of the Consolidated Brick and Tile Company face brick. Note the interior clay body in the broken section on the far right.


Ruffle Brick

This Consolidated Brick and Tile Company ruffle brick was found at the Santa Monica plant site by Roy Steege, so I will describe it here where it was probably made. It is orange and mostly uniform in color. The faces display curved wire-cut marks and a velour texture. This brick is not marked with a brand name. One side has a smooth surface. The other side and at least one end are grooved with the rug texture. The grooves are transverse and evenly spaced about 1/2 inch apart. The groove is 1/8 inch wide and deep. Estimated from the projected length of the bat, there are probably 17 grooves on the side. There are 8 grooves on the end. The edges are straight and sharp. Corners are broken. The interior clay is compact and nearly vitrified, and shows lamination with rare vesicles. In the clay are about 10 percent tiny specks of black iron, less than 1/32 inch in size, and rarer white quartz, 1/16 inch across. This brick was made using the extruded, wire-cut, stiff mud process. Length 8, width 3 3/4, height 2 1/4 inches.

Consolidated Brick and Tile Company rug brick
View of the face of the Consolidated Brick and Tile Company face brick bat showing the wire-cut marks. Note the interior clay body on the far right.


Consolidated Brick and Tile Company rug brick
View of the side of the Consolidated Brick and Tile Company face brick bat showing the rug texture.


Consolidated Brick and Tile Company rug brick
View of the end of the Consolidated Brick and Tile Company face brick bat showing the rug texture of 8 evenly spaced transverse grooves.


References

Dietrich, Waldemar F., The Clay Resources and the Ceramic Industry of California, California State Mining Bureau Bulletin 99, 1928, p. 118.

Los Angeles City Directories, 1930-1934.

Santa Monica City Directory, 1933.

Steege, Roy, written communications, 2008.

Symons, Henry H., California Mineral Production and Directory of Mineral Producers For 1930, California State Mining Bureau Bulletin 105, 1931, 231 p.

Copyright 2014 Dan Mosier

Contact Dan Mosier at danmosier@earthlink.net.