California brick
CALIFORNIA BRICKS


Golden Gate Brick Company

Golden Gate Brick Co. ad

History

This company started up in 1903 with its brick plant located on River Road (now Wilbur Avenue), one mile east of Antioch, and main office in the Rialto Building on Market Street in San Francisco. First officers of the company were W. G. Wridge, president; Frank Rehorn, vice-president; and B. G. McDougall, secretary and treasurer. General Manager Fred Dodd was later replaced by Clarence F. Pratt. The plant in Antioch manufactured sand-lime bricks. Sand-lime bricks, also known as sandstone bricks, were manufactured by mixing fine sand with lime and molded into bricks, which were hardened in an autoclave. The Golden Gate Company also was a dealer in sand and gravel and other building materials as indicated in their advertisements.

Clarence F. Pratt
Clarence F. Pratt. From Architect and Engineer, May 1913.

View of the sand pit at Antioch, California. From San Francisco Call, 1907.
View of the sand pit at Antioch, California. From San Francisco Call, 1907.

The sand-lime plant was erected by W. C. Vanneman of the American Sand-Lime Brick Company in 60 days. The plant was 48 by 40 feet in plan and two stories high. The engine room contained a 125-horsepower high-pressure boiler and a 75-horsepower Brownell engine. There were also grinding and hydrating machines and a cylinder room. The plant stood against the hillside just a few feet from the sand bank.

Golden Gate Brick Co. brickyard at Antioch
View of the Golden Gate sand-lime brick plant, Antioch, California. W. C. Vanneman
is standing in front of the white sand-lime bricks. From Brick and Clay Record, 1907.

The sand was conveyed by cars into the second story of the plant and was dumped onto a 12-foot shaking screen. From the screen, the clean sand was fed into the proportioning and measuring machine along with hydrating lime from adjacent bins. The material was then sent to the mixer, where mixing was first done dry and then wet. The mixture then went to a four-mold sand-lime brick press. The molded brick was then taken to the hardening cylinder, which produced perfect brick in nine to ten hours. The plant produced about 18,000 brick per day. It employed nine workers under the supervision of the plant foreman D. E. Lindberg.

Golden Gate Brick Co. sand-lime press and hardening cylinder
View of the sand-lime press (right) and hardening cylinder (left). From Brick and Clay Record, 1904.


View of the plant interior. From San Francisco Call, 1907.
View of the plant interior. From San Francisco Call, 1907.

In 1907, the Golden Gate Brick Company partnered with the Stockton Fire and Enamel Brick Company to add clay bricks made at the Stockton plant, located near the Jackson Baths on the southern limit of the city. The Golden Gate Brick Company was the only company in northern California at the time to supply both sand-lime and clay fired bricks. The Stockton plant consisted of five brick kilns, two brick pressing machines, two cutting machines, pugmill, dry pan, oil tanks, two boilers and a steam engine. The brick machinery was run by four motors. The clay was shipped by rail to the plant from Carnegie, Ione, Valley Springs, and Lincoln. About 25 men were employed to produce firebrick, with the "STOCKTON" brand name, face brick, white enameled brick, common red brick, rug face brick, hand-molded material, and linings. Magnesite from Sonoma County was used to make magnesite bricks. Plant capacity was 50,000 machine-made bricks per day. Bricks were shipped to the Stockton and San Francisco markets by the Southern Pacific Railroad. George Wheatley and later John T. Roberts were managers of the Stockton plant.

Examples of Golden Gate sandstone brick can be seen in the Southern Pacific Hospital at 1400 Fell Street in San Francisco. The sand-lime bricks were also used in the Berkeley railroad depot and the fronts of many buildings in the Chinatown section of San Francisco. The No. 17 buff clay pressed brick was used to face the Eddy Apartment at 555 Eddy Street and the Wilson Building at 340 Stockton Street in San Francisco.

Golden Gate Brick Co. ad
Advertisement for the Golden Gate Brick Company. From Architect and Engineer, Jan. 1910.

The red pressed brick faced the Moore Building at 225 Pine St. and the residence at 3636 Washington Street in San Francisco. No. 21 white enameled brick was used in the residence at 3636 Washington Street and the U.S. Post Office on Mission Street in San Francisco.

Clarence Pratt left the company to start his own building material company in 1913. The last manager of the company was H. Strudwick. The Golden Gate Brick Company closed operations in 1914. The sand-lime plant in Antioch was dismantled. The Stockton plant was purchased by the Stockton Fire Brick Company. The area around the Golden Gate plant site was subsequently mined for sand.

The property is now owned by the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge, habitat of the endangered Lange's Metalmark butterfly and numerous plant species. In July 2011, Sandra Kelly, a docent at the Antioch Dunes Wildlife Refuge, rediscovered the location of the Golden Gate Brick Company property, where she found some remnant railroad spur ties. With the help of Sandra Kelly, Susan Euing and Don Brubaker of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Alison McNally of U. C. Davis, we were able to locate the plant site along with some of the sand-lime bricks, which are shown below. Only the sand-lime bricks were made at this location. The clay bricks were made at their affiliated plant in Stockton.

Golden Gate Brick Co. brickyard at Stockton
View of the Golden Gate Brick Company's plant at Stockton, also known as the
Stockton Fire and Enamel Brick Company. From Architect and Engineer, Dec. 1911.


Golden Gate Brick

Sand-Lime Brick

Grayish-white, mostly uniform in color. Brick form is excellent with straight sharp edges and dull corners. Surface has a smooth feel. No marks were seen on any of the faces or sides except for the usual abrasion stratches. Interior contains 97 percent subangular white quartz about 1/32 inch or less in diameter, 2 percent subangular pinkish white feldspar up to 1/32 inch in diameter, and 1 percent round black magnetite 1/64 inch in diameter and golden mica 1/32 inch in diameter. This brick was made using the dry pressed process. Length 8 1/2, width 4, height 2 1/2 inches.

Golden Gate sand-lime brick
View of the face of the Golden Gate Sand-Lime Brick.

Golden Gate sand-lime brick
View of the side of the Golden Gate Sand-Lime Brick. Note the surface
erosion from exposure to weather after 100 years on the far right.

Golden Gate sand-lime brick
View of the end of the Golden Gate Sand-Lime Brick.

Golden Gate sand-lime brick interior
View of the interior of the Golden Gate Sand-Lime Brick.

Examples Below are Clay Bricks From the Stockton Fire and Enamel Brick Company, Stockton, California
Red Pressed Brick

Red, orange-red to orange, mottled dark and light shades, not uniform. Ends tend to have darker cores and lighter edges. Sides may show darker edges. Smooth sides and ends, some displaying tiny pits, some with black iron spots less than 1/4 inch. Edges straight, corners sharp. Example shown was made in 1911. Length 8 1/4, width 3 7/8, height 2 1/4 inches.

Golden Gate Red Pressed brick
View of the Golden Gate Red Pressed Brick.

Golden Gate Red Pressed brick
View of the mottled color of the Golden Gate Red Pressed Brick.



White Enameled Brick No. 21

Mat-white enamel, uniform in color. Some bricks show minor blistering or spalling of enamel, showing a white clay body beneath. Tiny black spots less than 1/8 inch on some surfaces. Some appear to have a lip 1/4 inch along one edge. Edges straight, corners sharp. Example shown was made in 1911. Length 8, width 3 7/8, height 2 1/2 inches.

Golden Gate White Enameled No. 21 brick
View of the Golden Gate White Enameled Brick No. 21.



Buff Pressed Brick No. 18

Salmon to buff, freckled with brown to grayish black iron spots up to 1/4 inch. Sides may display transverse strips or areas of lighter color. No visible marks on sides and ends. Curved wire cut marks on faces. Edges undulate slightly. Corners are sharp. Example shown was made in 1911. Length 8 1/4, width 3 5/8, height 2 3/8 inches.

Golden Gate Buff Pressed brick
View of the Golden Gate Buff Pressed Brick.


Rug Brick

Light and dark buff, some freckled with irregular shaped black iron spots up to 1/2 inch across and white quartz up to 1/16 inch across. Sides have 21 to 31 deep transverse grooves. Ends have 9 to 11 deep transverse grooves. The grooves are 1/4 inch wide and evenly spaced. Faces could not be observed for description. Example shown was made in 1912. Length 8, width 3 7/8, height 2 1/2 inches.

Golden Gate Buff Rug brick
View of the Golden Gate Buff Rug Brick.


References

Architect and Engineer, Dec. 1911, p. 106.

Architect and Engineer, Jan. 1910, p. 109.

Architect and Engineer, Jan. 1912, p. 106.

Architect and Engineer, July 1910, p. 108.

Architect and Engineer, July 1911, p. 107.

Architect and Engineer, May 1913, p. 136.

Architect and Engineer, Oct. 1911, p. 124.

Boalich, E.S., Castello, W.O., Huguenin, Emile, Logan, C.A., and Tucker, W.B., The Clay Industry In California, California State Mining Bureau Preliminary Report 7, 1920, p. 94-95.

Bradley, W.W., Brown, G.C., Lowell, F.L., and McLauglin, R.P., Mines and Mineral Resources of Portions of California, Part 4: The Counties of Fresno, Kern, King, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, California State Mining Bureau 14th Report of the State Mineralogist, for the Biennial Period 1913-1914, 1916, p. 429-634 (608-610).

Brick and Clay Record, July 30, 1907, p. 37.

Brick and Clay Record, Sept. 14, 1907, p. 34.

Brick and Clay Record, The Golden Gate Brick Co., Antioch, Cal., v. 20, no. 4, 1904, p. 205.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 20, no. 3, 1904, p. 197.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 23, no. 8, Oct. 29, 1903, p. 32.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 41, no. 10, 1912, p. 400.

Brick To Build A City, San Francisco Call, September 15, 1907.

Contra Costa County Directory 1910-1911, 1914-1915.

Crafts, H.A., Making Sand-Lime Brick in California, Brick and Clay Record, v. 27, no. 3, 1907, p. 98.

Kelly, Sandra, written communications, 2011.

San Francisco City Directories, 1904-1914.

Copyright 2005 Dan Mosier

Contact Dan Mosier at danmosier@earthlink.net.