California brick
CALIFORNIA BRICKS


Gladding, McBean & Company, Los Angeles

Atholl McBean, President.
Atholl McBean, President. Brick and Clay Record, 1929.

History


In 1926, Howard Frost, owner of the Los Angeles Pressed Brick Company, decided to retire and this caused a large block of his holdings to be transferred to the Gladding, McBean & Company, which took control of the Los Angeles Pressed Brick Company. Frost retained a large number of shares and remained a director for four more years. The offices of the two companies were combined on February 22, on the top floor of the Pacific Finance Building in Los Angeles.

Atholl McBean became the new president, replacing Howard Frost, and F.B. Ortman the vice-president and general manager, replacing Richard D. Hatton. Gladding, McBean & Company allowed the Los Angeles Pressed Brick Company to continue to operate independently, except for the terra cotta sales, which Gladding, McBean & Company wanted to control. The total gross sales of the two companies were estimated to range between $6,000,000 and $7,000,000 annually. Gus Larson remained the plant manager of the company plants. In 1929, Seward Simons became the general sales manager for the Southern Division of Gladding, McBean & Company. In 1930, George P. Fackt became the assistant general manager at the Los Angeles office.

Atholl McBean, President.
Aerial view of the Los Angeles Plant, 952 Date Street, Los Angeles. Gladding, McBean and Company, 1951.

Gladding, McBean & Company acquired all of the former plants of the Los Angeles Pressed Brick Company located at Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and Alberhill. The company also acquired all of the clay properties of the former company located at Alberhill in Riverside County, and San Diego, Orange, San Bernardino, and Kern counties.

The focus of this article will be the Los Angeles plant located at 952 Date Street (now Bauchet St.) and Alhambra Avenue, in the heart of the commercial district of Los Angeles, where the county prison currently stands in the Union Terminal District. Gladding, McBean & Company continued to manufacture the same clay products at this plant that were made by the former company. Beginning in 1930, the LAPBCo markings on the products were replaced by the Gladding McBean logo. Gladding McBean continued to use the brand names and brick panel names that were introduced by the former company. The plant used 14 varieties of clays in its products, all of which required the mixing of at least two or three different clays. That with essentially the same clay compositions make it difficult to distinguish the products from the two companies where the marking is absent. Any products made after 1926 from this plant should be attributed to Gladding, McBean & Company.

Surprisingly, there is little description of the Los Angeles plant. Gladding McBean rarely reported activities from this plant. When Gladding McBean took over, the construction business was slowing, especially for structural building brick. Art Deco buildings requiring terra cotta cladding and hollow tile were more popular in the late 1920s to early 1930s. The first large contract was for the Los Angeles City Hall, where the company supplied nine kinds of products: terra cotta, roofing tile, hollow tile, Promenade Tile, paving brick, decorative tile, faience tile, groined ceiling tile, and acoustic tile. The face brick made by Gladding, McBean & Company were similar to the ones made by the Los Angeles Pressed Brick Company (see pictures and descriptions at
LAPBCo). The following face brick with its order numbers were listed in its 1927(?) face brick catalog:

Pressed Brick:
Cream
Buff
Gray
Old Gold
Red
Red Buff
Bullnose 1-inch radius for above

Enamel Brick, 1 to 30:
No. 1 Tan and White Pulsichrome
No. 3 Blue and Brown Pulsichrome
No. 11 White
No. 12 Ivory
No. 17 Green
No. 18 Blue
No. 19 Gray
No. 23 Black
No. 24 Light Ivory with black spots

Ruffled Brick, 30 to 50:
No. 30 Tan Ruffled
No. 32 Oro Grande Ruffled
No. 33 Old Rose Ruffled Rose (Rose, Tans, Reds, and Purples, variegated)
No. 34 Los Angeles Rose
No. 35 Special Mixture

Rug Brick, 50 to 60:
No. 50 Tan Rug
No. 51 Red Rug
No. 52 Belmont (Rose, Tans, Reds and Purples, variegated)

Smooth Wire Cut, 60 to 80:
No. 60 Variegated Reds
No. 61 Old Gold
No. 62 Gray
No. 63 Buff
No. 64 Old Gold Roman

Pavers, 80 to 90:
No. 80 Alberhill Flatters
No. 81 Alberhill Repressed
No. 82 Red Pressed

Granitex, 101 to 109
No. 101 Light (Stone Surface Finish)
No. 102 Dark (Stone Surface Finish)

In 1935, Gladding McBean converted the Los Angeles plant into a refractory products manufacturer when its refractory plant at Alberhill was closed. Refractory clays from other properties were shipped to the Los Angeles plant, probably by rail and trucks. In its 1951 catalog of refractory products, the Los Angeles plant was mentioned as a "producer of fire clay refractories for industries of the Southwest." This plant produced the following refractory bricks:

DIABLO dry press super duty firebrick
No. 162 dry press firebrick
MARINE dry press high duty firebrick
TROJAN dry press high duty firebrick
ROYAL dry press intermediate duty firebrick
STOCKTON S.M. stiff mud intermediate duty firebrick
THREE STAR stiff mud intermediate duty firebrick
FLINT dry press firebrick
FLINT ACID stiff mud firebrick
50-MIX dry press firebrick
S-G dry press silica firebrick

The plant also produced plastic firebrick, high-temperature mortar, bonding mortar, castable refractory, insulating plastic, insulating castable, silica mortar, ground fireclay, and 20-mesh grog.

This plant was not mentioned in the report of Gay and Hoffman (1954) for active producers in 1952, indicating that the plant had closed by that date. This was the result of declining demand for high-alumina firebrick and the changes in the refractories industry requiring different kinds of refractory brick. In 1956, the Los Angeles brick property was sold to the Los Angeles County Retirement Association Board for $1,540,475, for the new men's county jail. By August 1962, the plant was demolished and batched for concrete by the Livingston Rock and Gravel Company. The new county jail was built on the site in 1963. Such a sad and quiet ending for an important clay products plant that helped to build the most significant buildings in the City of Los Angeles.

Gladding McBean Bricks from Los Angeles

Gladding McBean Face Bricks

The Granitex face brick has a white enamel with black spots on a buff brick. The form is excellent with straight sharp edges and sharp corners. The surface is smooth. The unglazed side display orange-brown flashing. The enamel is on one long side and on one end of the brick, with slight spillage over the edges. The enamel pattern is made to mimic granite. The marked face is stamped with the oval Gladding McBean logo in the center of the face and not always straight. It measures 2 3/4 by 2 1/8 inches. The interior is composed of fine granular cream clay with 3 percent subangular clear quartz and flashy mica, less than 1/32 inch in diameter. This brick was made using the dry press process. Length 8 1/4, width 4, height 2 1/4 inches.

View of the marked face of the Gladding McBean granitix face brick.
View of the marked face of the Gladding McBean granitex face brick.

View of the side of the Gladding McBean granitix face brick.
View of the enameled side of the Gladding McBean granitex face brick.

View of the side of the Gladding McBean granitix face brick.
View of the enameled end of the Gladding McBean granitex face brick.

View of the side of the Gladding McBean granitix face brick.
View of the unmarked face of the Gladding McBean granitex face brick.

View of the side of the Gladding McBean granitix face brick.
View of the side of the Gladding McBean granitex face brick showing orange-brown flashing.

View of the side of the Gladding McBean granitix face brick.
View of the interior clay body of the Gladding McBean granitex face brick.

Gladding McBean Firebrick

Marine firebrick

Marine firebricks was made for use around boilers on ships. It is buff to salmon with a smooth surface. It has straight sharp edges and corners, when not broken. Dark brown iron spots are visible on the smooth surface along with tiny pits. The marked face has the company logo mark, 2 by 1 3/8 inches, over the brand name "MARINE" in recessed block letter which is in a tight rounded rectangular name plate, which is 4 1/4 inches long and 7/8 inch wide. The name is 3 3/4 inches long and 7/8 inch tall. Another brand is a "1A" shown below. Interior is composed of coarse granular flinty clay with 10 percent each of white, subangular granite and quartz, 1/8 inch in diameter, and round to linear dark brown iron oxides 1/4 inches in diameter. This brick was made using the dry press process. It is heavy, weighing 7.4 pounds. Length 8 7/8, width 4 1/2, height 2 1/2 inches.

Marked face of the Gladding McBean Marine firebrick
View of the marked face of the Marine firebrick. Donated by Keith Collins.

Side of the Gladding McBean Marine firebrick
View of the side of the Marine firebrick. Donated by Keith Collins.

Unmarked face of the Gladding McBean Marine firebrick
View of the unmarked face of the Marine firebrick. Donated by Keith Collins.

End of the Gladding McBean Marine firebrick
View of the end of the Marine firebrick. Donated by Keith Collins.

Interior of the Gladding McBean Marine firebrick
View of the interior of the Marine firebrick. Donated by Keith Collins.

Marked face of the GMB Marine 1A firebrick
View of the marked face of the Marine 1A firebrick. Photo courtesy of Ron Rose.

References

Atholl McBean, the Man and His Methods, Brick and Clay Record, v. 74, no. 9, 1929, p. 608.

Concrete Batching Plant, Los Angeles Times, August 21, 1962, p. 79.

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.

Gladding, McBean and Company, Face Brick, 1927?.

Gladding, McBean and Company, Refractories Handbook, 1951.

G. P. Fackt Joins Gladding, McBean, Brick and Clay Record, v. 76, no. 3, 1930, p. 200.

Los Angeles Times, March 1, 1961, p. 21.

Plants Now Under McBean Control, Brick and Clay Record, v. 68, no. 4, 1926, p. 283.

Simons Joins Gladding, McBean, Brick and Clay Record, v. 74, no. 11, 1929, p. 756.

Work Progresses on 2 New Jails for County, Los Angeles Times, February 11, 1963, p. 27.

Copyright 2017 Dan Mosier

Contact Dan Mosier at danmosier@earthlink.net.