California brick
CALIFORNIA BRICKS


Amos Clark

History


Amos Clark was an early brick and building contractor in Eureka, Humboldt County, California. In May 1875, Clark started his brickyard in Cooper Gulch, at the east end of 10th Street in Eureka. It was reported that Clark was to fire 600,000 bricks in his first kiln. This must have been a large rectangular field kiln. There was no description of his brick plant, but from the known brick, he manufactured sand-molded common brick using the soft-mud process. The bricks had quite a wide range of colors from light orange to dark red, reflecting the degree of firing.

View of the 1875 Janssen Building in Eureka.
View of the Morgan Block store at 2112 Second Street in Eureka. Clark's
bricks are in the walls of the store on the right. The bricks are painted white.

It is known that some of Clark's bricks went into five single-story brick buildings on the Morgan Block, on the southeast corner of E and Second streets in downtown Eureka. Owner Alonzo Morgan hired Clark to construct the brick buildings in 1875. The Morgan Block opened for business in May 1876. Some of Clark's brick can be seen in a couple of the original buildings standing on this block, although they have been painted. The building at 2112 Second Street displays Clark's brick on the south exterior wall. Exposed Clark bricks can be seen on the north interior wall of this building. The Janssen Building at 422 First Street is believed to be another example of Clark's bricks built in 1875. The bricks on the front facade are painted, but the western exterior wall displays exposed bricks. The Janssen Building provides the description below for Clark's bricks.

It appears that Clark must have operated his brickyard briefly during the mid-1870s. He was not listed in the 1880 Census Records for Eureka, so he may have left town by that time. No additional information was found on Amos Clark. John E. Hill had started up his brickyard on the Eureka Slough in Eureka at about the same time, so some of the bricks in the structures built since 1875 may have come from Hill's brickyard. A distinguishing feature in differentiating the bricks made by Clark and Hill is the presence of clam shells in Hill's bricks and their absence in Clark's brick. Clark's bricks are also slightly smaller and thinner than Hill's bricks.

View of the 1875 Janssen Building in Eureka.
View of the 1875 Janssen Building in Eureka.

Clark Brick

Common bricks range in color from light orange to dark red and some are mottled in light to dark shades. The surface is coated with quartz sand. The form is poor with irregular dull edges and dull corners. There are large gouges and pits, as much as 1 inch in diameter, on the surface. An irregular lip up to 1/4 inch in thickness occurs around the tops of some bricks. Patches of excess clay are attached to some surfaces. Some bricks are cracked. Longitudinal stack indentation, leaving a longitudinal ridge across the center, was seen on the sides of some bricks. Some bricks are burnt to black. The bottom face is flat and smooth. The top face was not observed. The interior appears to lack clasts, although, so few were seen. In the lighter colored bricks that are under-fired, the exposed interior clay has turned to loose powder. The interior is composed of orange to orange-red porous fine sandy clay, some of which appears to have laminations. This brick was made using the soft-mud process. A range of sizes is noted, some bricks were noticeably thinner than others. Length 7 3/4 - 8, width 3 3/4 - 4, height 1 3/4 - 2 3/8 inches.

View of the sides of the Clark common brick.
View of the sides of the Clark common brick.

View of the sides of the Clark common brick.
View of the sides of the Clark common brick.

View of the sides of the Clark common brick showing a burnt end.
View of the sides of the Clark common brick showing a burnt end.

View of the bottom faces of the Clark common brick.
View of the bottom faces of the Clark common brick. Brick on the left shows laminations in the clay.

References

Baldivia, Stefani, Research Assistant, Humboldt County Historical Society, personal communications, 2014.

Eureka Heritage Society, Eureka, An Architectural View, Eureka, California, reprint, 1994.

Federal Census Records, 1870.

Federal Census Records, 1880.

From Burning Board to Bricks, Alonzo Monroe's 'Phoenix,' Humboldt Historian, September-October 1991, p. 14-16.

Humboldt County Historical Society Museum, Eureka, California, 2014.

Copyright 2014 Dan Mosier

Contact Dan Mosier at danmosier@earthlink.net.