California brick

Alexander Esdon


In 1874, Alexander Esdon, a native of Vermont, established a brickyard in the Northern Addition section of Livermore. Esdon owned 700 acres of land on the north side of the railroad (Railroad Avenue). Adjacent to the clay pit, Esdon erected two field kilns, each with a capacity of 500,000 bricks. Esdon brickyard employed 25 men.

By April 1875, he had fired enough bricks to build the first brick building in Livermore at the northwest corner of Railroad and Livermore avenues. This two-story building became the Farmers Union building, which was razed in 1939. Esdon's bricks were used in the construction of at least two more buildings in this part of town, including the present Charlottes Web at 1260 Railroad Avenue (see picture) and the Gardemeyer Building, 142 North Livermore Avenue. There were no reports from the Esdon brickyard after 1875, so it is possible that the brick operations ceased shortly after the building of the Gardemeyer Building in 1876 to 1878.

Charlottes Web in Livermore
Charlottes Web on Railroad Ave., Livermore, made of Esdon bricks.

Esdon Brick

Common brick is orange to orange red, with visible clasts on the surface, which can get quite large, and abundant holes. Yellow-brown flashing is visible on some surfaces. Broken surface shows black and white clasts and holes. Rough to smooth surface texture. Irregular edges and rounded or broken corners. No lip present. Hand-molded, water-struck, soft-mud process. Fine transverse lines on the sides, with occasional grooves. Bottom face shows water-struck marks running transverse on a flat surface. Top face shows water-struck marks running longitudinal on an uneven or undulating surface. Length 8 1/4, width 4, height 2 1/8 - 2 1/4 inches.

Esdon brick
Esdon bricks on the side wall of Charlottes Web building.


Alameda County Gazette, 1874.

Livermore Enterprise, 1874-1876.

Mauch, Larry, The Farmers Union, Livermore Heritage Guild Newsletter, v. 25, no. 4, January 1996.

Mauch, Larry, The Gardemeyer Building, Livermore Heritage Guild Newsletter, v. 25, no. 10, July-August 1996.

Mauch, Larry, The Oldest Brick Building In Livermore, Livermore Heritage Guild Newsletter, v. 25, no. 9, June 1996.

Mosier, Dan L., History of Brickmaking in the Livermore Valley, Livermore Heritage Guild Newsletter, v. 10, no. 5, February 1983.

Thompson and West, Historical Atlas of Alameda County, California, Oakland, CA, 1878.

Copyright 2004 Dan Mosier

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