California brick
CALIFORNIA BRICKS


Gladding McBean and Company, Santa Monica yard

History


In February 1926, Gladding McBean and Company had taken control of the Los Angeles Pressed Brick Company through stock acquisitions. As part of this acquisition, Gladding McBean and Company acquired Plant Number Two of the
Los Angeles Pressed Brick Company, located on the east side of Cloverfield Boulevard and Colorado Avenue in Santa Monica, Los Angeles County, California. The plant, on 55 acres of clay land, was temporarily closed for a year while the new company made some modifications and sold off the remaining products of the former company. This was an important acquisition for Gladding McBean and Company for obtaining red-burning clay that was excellent for making red clay products, such as red face brick, quarry tile, hollow tile, roofing tile, flue lining, and chimney pipe. In 1927, F. R. White became the new manager of the plant under Gladding McBean and Company. In the period from 1927 to 1930, Gladding McBean and Company began to produce its own brand-marked products from this plant and these were sold along with the products of the Los Angeles Pressed Company, so it should not be surprising to find LAPBCo-marked products in structures built after 1926 and into the early 1930s. Gladding McBean's advertisements and catalogs carried the Los Angeles Pressed Brick Company name until October 1927.

View of the Gladding McBean and Company plant, Santa Monica.
View of the Gladding McBean and Company plant, Santa Monica, 1939. Facing southeast from the intersection
of Cloverfield and Colorado. Courtesy of the Santa Monica Public Library Image Archives, City Collection.

The clay on the property was 10 to 36 feet thick and mined in open pits. Clay, tested by the State Mineralogist, was classified as a red-burning clay of medium to high strengths with long vitrification range of 4 cones or more, but best from cone 010 to cone 1, or for vitrified products, from cone 02 to cone 3. Some of this clay was used at the Gladding McBean plant on Date Street in Los Angeles. Some clay from Riverside County was sent to the Santa Monica yard to be mixed with the local clay for certain products.

The plant was essentially the same used previously by the Los Angeles Pressed Brick Company, which is referred to for details. Some of the machinery was upgraded with new molds holding the Gladding McBean oval logo that was pressed on bricks and other products. In 1928, the State Mineralogist reported that all products were made by the stiff-mud process on auger machines and fired in 12 round down-draft kilns.

All shades of red wire-cut bricks in Standard and Roman sizes and smooth and rough textures were made here. Evidence of red pressed bricks with the oval logo found in Southern California indicate that the plant must have used a brick-press machine as well. Both hand-made and machine-made tiles were made. A quarry tile called "Promenade Tile" was made in a wide variety of red tones with purplish to greenish hue. Roofing tiles were made with names of "Cordova," "Mission," and probably others.

Some examples of the Coral Roman Ruffled Face can be seen at Royce Hall (1929) and Haines Hall (1929) on the UCLA campus, Los Angeles. Old Rose Ruffled Face can be seen at the Los Angeles Power and Water Distribution Station No. 44 (1928) at 911 Lincoln Boulevard, Santa Monica. Variegated Smooth Red Face is on the Gwynn Wilson Student Union Building (1927) on the University of Southern California campus, Los Angeles. Paving brick and Promenade floor tile are used at the Los Angeles City Hall (1928). These products were shipped throughout Southern California and can be found on many buildings and homes.

Changes in managers at the Santa Monica yard were frequent. F. R. White was superintendent from 1926 through 1933. Afterwards, the following were listed as superintendents for the years shown: F. C. Lea (1936), C. H. Daubenberger (1938), William Gunn (1940), M. P. Post (1947-1948), Homer Dye (1952-1953), and John Blackburn (1954).

The Santa Monica plant closed about 1954, the last year it was listed in the Santa Monica City Directory. Gladding McBean about that time was phasing out of the brick business and shutting down its brick plants. A California water quality report on the property stated that the Gladding McBean pit was used for refuse disposal by Santa Monica and Beverly Hills. The pit was filled by 1958. In 1990, the site was developed into The Water Garden, office complexes surrounding a manmade lake and garden.

Gladding McBean Brick

Smooth Red Face

Smooth red face brick were standard wire-cut bricks that were produced in a range of orange and red colors. The dark red has a purplish hue in the sunlight. The form is excellent with straight sharp edges. The short edges are rounded. The side surfaces are smooth, though some may have little bumps and pits. Some sides may display a core of a darker color in the center. Faces display curved wire-cut grooves. This brick was made using the stiff-mud process. Brick dimensions are not available.

View of the sides of the Gladding McBean variegated red face brick.
View of the sides of the Gladding McBean variegated red smooth face brick.

Red Ruffled Face

Red ruffled face, or Old Rose, is in shades of red. The form is excellent with straight sharp edges. The short edges are rounded and form a distinct smooth margin along the edges. The sides are ruffled in the longitudinal direction. Transverse striations may be present on the sides and ends. Visible coarse subrounded white quartz sand and rounded soft yellow and red clay are visible on the surface. The interior consists of 10 to 15 percent subrounded white quartz, rounded white and yellow clay, and subrounded black iron oxide, all less than 1/8 inch in diameter, in a sandy clay body. Brick dimensions are not available.

View of the sides of the Gladding McBean red ruffled face brick.
View of the sides of the Gladding McBean red ruffled face brick. Note the smooth margins along the short
rounded edges. White quartz, yellow and white clay, and black iron oxide specks are visible on the surface.

Close-up view of the side of the Gladding McBean red ruffled face brick.
Close-up view of the side of the Gladding McBean red
ruffled face brick showing grains of white quartz,
yellow and white clay, and black iron oxide specks.

Close-up view of the interior clay body of the Gladding McBean red ruffled face brick.
Close-up view of the interior clay body of
the Gladding McBean red ruffled face brick.

Coral Roman Face

Coral Roman Face brick is in shades of red, pink, and burgundy. The form is excellent with straight sharp edges. The edges are jagged along the rough textured side. The sides are ruffled in the transverse direction. The reverse side is smooth and may show longitudinal striations. Both ends display curved wire-cut grooves on a faint velour texture (end-cut bricks). Faces have longitudinal grooves or striations on a smooth surface. White quartz grains and white and yellow clay specks are visible on the surface. This brick was made using the stiff-mud process. Brick dimensions are not available.

View of the sides of the Gladding McBean Coral Roman face brick.
View of the sides of the Gladding McBean Coral Roman face brick.

Red Pressed

Red pressed brick is pale red to red. The form is excellent with straight sharp edges and sharp corners, when not broken or worn. Because it is a dry-pressed brick, it spalls easily and may often have broken edges or corners. Rounded grains of clay are flattened on the surface giving it a stippled appearance. A few tiny white specks of white clay or quartz may be visible on the surface. The marked face may be impressed with the Gladding McBean oval logo. Two sizes of the logo are known. The smaller size measures 2 by 1 1/4 inches. The larger size is 2 7/8 by 2 inches. Another style of marking has the small logo inside a rectangular frog that is 2 3/4 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide. The sides of the frog are beveled. The interior contains 5 percent subangular white quartz, rounded white clay, and black iron oxides, all less than 1/8 inch in diameter, in a fine granular sandy clay body. This brick was made using the dry-pressed method. The brick with the larger logo is 1/4 inch wider. Length 8 1/2, width 4 - 4 1/4, height 2 1/2 inches.

Marked face of the small GMB logo on red pressed brick
View of the marked face of the red pressed brick with the small Gladding McBean logo.

View of the side of the red pressed brick with the small Gladding McBean logo.
View of the side of the red pressed brick.

View of the interior clay body of the red pressed brick.
View of the interior clay body of the red pressed brick.

View of the marked face of the red pressed brick with the small Gladding McBean logo inside a frog.
View of the marked face of the red pressed brick with the small Gladding McBean logo inside a frog.

View of the marked face of the red pressed brick with the large Gladding McBean logo.
View of the marked face of the red pressed brick with the large Gladding McBean logo.

References

Dietrich, Waldemar F., The Clay Resources and the Ceramic Industry of California, California State Mining Bureau Bulletin 99, 1928, p. 102.

Freedner, James, personal communications, 2015.

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 & Co., Shapes of Clay, v. 5, no. 3, San Francisco, Los Angeles, February 1929.

Gladding, McBean & Co., Shapes of Clay, v. 5, no. 5, San Francisco, Los Angeles, August 1929.

Gladding, McBean & Co. and Los Angeles Pressed Brick Company, Face Brick, catalog, San Francisco, Los Angeles, 1927.

Higgins, Josh, written communications, 2014.

Office of Historic Resources, SurveyLA, LA Historic Resources Survey, Venice Report, Los Angeles Department of City Planning, Los Angeles, 4/2/2015, preservation.lacity.org.

Pacific Coast Architect, v. 32, no. 3, September 1927, p. 54.

Pacific Coast Architect, v. 32, no. 4, October 1927, p. 54.

Pacific Coast Architect, v. 33, no. 5, May 1928, p. 6.

Pacific Coast Architect, v. 33, no. 9, September 1928, p. 6.

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

Santa Monica City Directory, 1927.

Santa Monica City Directory, 1930-1931.

Santa Monica City Directory, 1933.

Santa Monica City Directory, 1936.

Santa Monica City Directory, 1938.

Santa Monica City Directory, 1940.

Santa Monica City Directory, 1947-1948.

Santa Monica City Directory, 1952-1953.

Santa Monica City Directory, 1954.

Santa Monica Public Library, written communications, 2010.

State of California Regional Water Quality Control Board, Modified Cleanup and Abatement Order No. R4-2008-0034, File No. 97-176, 2010.

U.S. Geological Survey, Beverly Hills, 7.5 Minute Quadrangle Map, 1950.

Copyright 2015 Dan Mosier

Contact Dan Mosier at danmosier@earthlink.net.