California brick
CALIFORNIA BRICKS


Davidson Brick Company, Monterey Park Yard

History


Nathan Davidson was born in Lithuania about 1877. He came to the United States in 1888 and became naturalized in 1894. About 1903, he married Minnie Tapper, a native of Russia, in Newark, New Jersey, and they had two daughters. While in New Jersey, Nathan worked in the retail merchant business. About 1916, the family moved to Los Angeles, where he established a garment manufacturing business known as N. Davidson & Company. By 1930, he was remarried to Caroline, a native of New York with parents from Czechoslovakia.

About 1921, Nathan entered the brick manufacturing business when he acquired the Metallic Brick Company's yard located at 5301 Chicago Avenue and Monterey Pass Road in Los Angeles County. The yard which had closed a year before, was on 90 acres of land and contained a deposit of adobe and bluish and reddish soft clay shale of the Upper Miocene Puente (Monterey) formation that was exposed in a bank 70 feet high on the hill behind the brick plant.

An electric shovel was used for mining and loading the material into dump cars. The dump cars were taken to the plant by a gasoline locomotive. Evidently, Davidson initially tried to use the equipment in the plant that was abandoned by the Metallic Brick Company. He had ordered 30 panels with the name DAVIDSON for the Arnold Creager brick machine, but had to cancel the order probably due to equipment malfunction. Instead, in January 1922, he ordered 100 maple six-brick-molds with one panel containing the name DAVIDSON. These were used to make the Davidson's first hand-molded common bricks.

By 1927, he had updated the plant with a stiff-mud machine that made side-cut bricks. These bricks were probably not marked like his earlier bricks. A rope conveyor delivered the bricks to the drying sheds. After the bricks were dried, they were fired in oil-fueled field kilns. By July 1929, gas-fired field kilns with 80 burners per kiln were used. This helped to reduce the firing time by two days and reduced plant and labor costs. The plant output was reported to be 320,000 common brick and 150,000 building tile per day.

On June 22, 1928, the Davidson Brick Company was incorporated with a capital stock of $1,000,000. Nathan Davidson was president. The company office was located at 4701 East Floral Drive, which was later changed to 2601 West Floral Drive in Monterey Park.

By 1950, the yard was using tractors and carryalls to haul the clay to the hopper, about 200 yards from the quarry. The open cut was extended to a height of 150 feet. The plant was equipped with a roll crusher, vibrating screens, combined pug-mill and auger machine, and tunnel driers. About 40 to 110 workers were employed depending on the season.

The products during the 1950s included common brick, standard size and oversize (3 1/4 by 3 1/4 by 10 inches), modular brick (3 by 3 3/8 by 11 3/8 inches), modular structural blocks, 6 inches and 8 inches deep, angle brick, and pier brick. The bricks were available in solid or cored and in smooth or rug (scored) textures. Hollow partition tile also came with rug texture. These products were shipped throughout the Los Angeles region and to adjacent counties. In 1930, Davidson bricks were used in the San Bernardino post office. In 1934, 160,000 Davidson bricks were sent to the Bellflower No. 2 project of the Los Angeles sanitary district. Partition tile blocks, shown below, were used in the walls of the Western Claymachinery Sales, Inc., building in Monterey Park.

Nathan Davidson passed away on June 2, 1957 at the age of 80 years. But the Davidson Brick Company remained open until land developers purchased the property in 1982. The brick plant was razed and the property was eventually developed into the Los Angeles Corporate Center. In 1982, Davidson Brick Company reorganized and built a new yard at
Perris in Riverside County, California.

Davidson Brick

Davidson Sand-Molded Common Brick

The sand-molded common brick is orange-red and uniform in color. The surface has a very fine coating of sand made of mostly white subrounded quartz and minor golden mica flakes and magnetite grains, giving a gritty feel to the surface. A few rounded yellow clay and sandstone and red shale up to 1/4 inch in diameter appear on the surface. Minor white sublimation was noticed. The form is good with slightly undulating edges and nearly sharp edges and corners. The sides are flat and display fine brush strokes in both the longitudinal and angled directions. A thin irregular lip is present around the top edges. The top face is flat and heavily pitted with a strong longitudinal strike. The top face contains a single transverse stack indentation near the center. The bottom face contains a beveled rectangular frog that is 6 1/2 inches in length, 1 3/4 inches in width, and 1/4 inch in depth. Centered in the frog is the name DAVIDSON in raised block letters that span 5 7/8 inches and stand 1 inch in height. The interior contains the same rocks noted at the surface of less than 1/4 inch in diameter and constituting about 3 percent of the orange-red, porous, sandy clay body. This brick was made from 1922 to 1927, using the soft-mud process. Length 8 1/8, width 3 5/8, height 2 1/2 inches.

View of the marked face of the Davidson sand-molded common brick.
View of the marked face of the Davidson sand-molded common brick.

View of the top face of the Davidson sand-molded common brick showing the strong longitudinal strike.
View of the top face of the Davidson sand-molded common brick showing the strong longitudinal strike.

View of the side of the Davidson sand-molded common brick.
View of the side of the Davidson sand-molded common brick.

View of the end of the Davidson sand-molded common brick.
View of the end of the Davidson sand-molded common brick.

Davidson Cored Rug Brick

The cored rug brick is orange-red and uniform in color. The surface is smooth. The form is perfect with straight edges. The longer edges are sharp, the shorter edges are rounded. Three or two sides are flat and smooth, one or two sides are scored with deep, evenly spaced, transverse grooves. The dies that made these grooves are shown in one of the photos thanks to Arthur Davidson of the Western Claymachinery Sales, Inc. Yellow rounded clay up to 1/4 inch in diameter and about 1 percent is visible on the surface. The faces display three 1-inch diameter perforations and curved wire-cut marks. This brick was made using the stiff-mud process, extruded, and wire-cut. Length 8 1/2, width 3 1/2, height 3 3/4 inches.

View of the scored side of the Davidson cored rug brick.
View of the scored side of the Davidson cored rug brick.

View of the wire-cut face of the Davidson cored rug brick showing the three-hole perforations.
View of the wire-cut face of the Davidson cored rug brick showing the three-hole perforations.

View of the dies used to make the scored side of the Davidson cored rug brick.
View of the dies used to make the scored side of the Davidson cored rug brick.

Davidson Rug Partition Tile Block

The rug partition tile block is in shades of orange-red. The surface is smooth. The form is perfect with straight edges. The longer edges are sharp, the shorter edges are rounded. Three or two sides are flat and smooth, one or two sides are scored with deep, evenly spaced, transverse grooves. Yellow rounded clay up to 1/4 inch in diameter and about 1 percent is visible on the surface. The faces were not available to describe but contain a number of partitions. This block was made using the stiff-mud process, extruded, and wire-cut. Length 15 1/4, width 7 1/2, height 7 1/2 inches.

View of the scored sides of the Davidson rug partition tile block.
View of the scored sides of the Davidson rug partition tile block.

References

Ancestry.com, Califonia, Death Index, 1940-1997 [database online], Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 2000, Provo, Utah.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 84, no. 1, 1934, p. 7.

Davidson Brick Company, California Companies, www.californiacompanieslist.com/davidson-brick-company-orlw/ accessed April 26, 2014.

Davidson Incorporates For $1,000,000, Brick and Clay Record, v. 73, no. 2, 1928, p. 116.

Dietrich, Waldemar F., The Clay Resources and the Ceramic Industry of California, California State Mining Bureau Bulletin 99, 1928, p. 100-101.

Federal Census Records, 1900.

Federal Census Records, 1910.

Federal Census Records, 1920.

Federal Census Records, 1930.

Gas In the Industries, San Marino Tribune, July 12, 1929.

Gay, T.E., and Hoffman, S.R., Mines and Mineral Resources of Los Angeles County, California, California State Mining Bureau, California Journal of Mines and Geology, v. 50, no. 3-4, 1954, p. 467-709.

Los Angeles City Directory, 1916.

Los Angeles City Directory, 1923.

Los Angeles City Directory, 1924.

Notice, San Bernardino Daily Sun, June 24, 1932.

Stoll, G.C. ledgers, Western Claymachinery Sales, Inc., copied by Josh Higgins, 2012.

Uyeda, Elisabeth L., Simons Brick Co. and Early L.A. Brickyards, Los Angeles Revisited, Wednesday, August 4, 2010 Blog (accessed April 26, 2014).

Copyright 2014 Dan Mosier

Contact Dan Mosier at danmosier@earthlink.net.