Golden Gate Brick Company
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. From Architect and Engineer, May 1913.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
View of the face of the 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.
View of the end of the Golden Gate Sand-Lime Brick.
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.
View of the 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.
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.
View of the Golden Gate Buff Pressed 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.
View of the Golden Gate Buff Rug Brick.
Architect and Engineer, Dec. 1911, p. 106.
Copyright © 2005 Dan Mosier
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.