Holland Sandstone Brick Company
In January 1903, the Holland Sandstone Brick Company was incorporated in San Francisco with a capital stock of
$100,000. The original directors of the company were John A. Buck, Nicholas Ohlandt, Nathaniel N. Wilson, Walter
D. Bliss, Horace B. Chase, William S. Tevis, William G. Irwin, James Curran, William R. Whittier, and
Clarence W. Coburn. Clarence W. Coburn was the president and John A. Buck, vice president. These were business
men, capitalists, architects, and brickmakers from San Francisco, Bakersfield, and elsewhere. The main office
was located at 69 Fremont Street in San Francisco. Their plan was to build and operate sand-lime brick plants
throughout California. Their first plant was to be in Antioch in Contra Costa County, followed by plants in
Bakersfield, Watsonville, and Los Angeles. The company name was inspired by The Hague in South Holland,
Netherlands, where many sandstone brick buildings were built.
The company purchased 42 acres of waterfront property at Holland Landing, a mile east of Antioch on Wilbur
Avenue. The brick plant stood a quarter mile west of the sand-lime plant of the Golden Gate Brick Company.
This site was chosen for the large sand dunes that once stood over 50 feet in height and was a good source
of fine sand needed for the sand-lime brick. The exact location of the Holland sand-lime plant was
rediscovered by Sandra Kelly, a docent for the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge, who in July 2011
identified the location of the photograph of the Holland plant shown below and located some of the remnant
bricks on the property. These brick samples are shown below.
Post card view of the sand-lime plant of the Holland Sandstone Brick Company, c. 1906. Collection of Dan Mosier.
The Holland Sandstone Brick Company installed a well-equipped plant on the south side of the sand dunes.
They installed brick presses and the Komnick System hardening cylinder powered by steam. Raw sand was
screened, removing the coarser and finer materials, and mixed with a little lime and water in the pugmill.
The mixture was then sent to the bins for final slacking before being thoroughly mixed again in the pugmill.
The mixture was then pressed into standard-size brick form and stacked on cars. When the cars were fully loaded
with brick, they were rolled into the hardening cylinder, which was 30 feet in length and 6 feet in diameter.
Steam pressure of 120 pounds per square inch and heat up to 300 degrees F were applied to the bricks for 10 hours.
Once the bricks were hardened, they were removed to the storage yard and stacked ready for shipment by rail.
The plant had a spur rail line connected to the Santa Fe railroad. They also had a tunnel through the sand
dunes for river access where bricks could be shipped by barges.
The Holland plant had three Komnick hardening cylinders, each with a capacity of 7,000 brick, and the brick
press had a capacity of 10,000 to 12,000 brick per day. The plant started up in June 1903. During the first
four months in 1904, the plant was temporarily closed to upgrade the equipment so it could increase the production
to 40,000 brick per day. The standard sand-lime brick was light gray in color and weighed five pounds.
In 1904, sand-lime bricks were available in other colors, such as pink shown in the example below. In 1905,
the company erected a lime kiln house and new quarters for the company's employees at Antioch. The first
plant superintendent was F. W. Moller. He was succeeded in 1907 by Mr. Tupper.
Holland sandstone bricks were shipped to building projects in the surrounding valley towns. The very first building
built of Holland sand-lime brick was the Oasis Building at the southwest corner of Mission and Second streets in
San Francisco. This building, built in 1903, survived the earthquake and fire of 1906, while all buildings around
it had crumbled. The building still stands today on its original lot, but the bricks are hidden behind paint. It was
reported that the sand-lime bricks in the walls of the Monadnock Building on Market Street in San Francisco are made
by this company, however, the Golden Gate Brick Company, also of Antioch, claimed the brick in its advertisement.
Other sand-lime bricks were used in a theater and the Simons Building in Stockton. One report in 1904 stated that the
company had manufactured over 1 million bricks. A picture of the plant shows a large stock of bricks in the yard waiting
to be shipped.
It is not known exactly when the Holland Sandstone Brick Company ceased manufacturing bricks. The last report
of bricks from this company was in 1907, when the plant was having difficulties obtaining fuel. By 1919, the
company was reported to be operating a sand mine. The company was not listed in the San Francisco city
directories after 1919. The site of the Holland Sandstone Brick Company turned to
sand mining as indicated by the remnant pits and quarries where sand dunes once stood. The plant site has
been replaced in part by a gypsum processing plant and the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge.
Holland Sandstone Brick
The sand-lime brick is light gray and mostly uniform in color. An example of the pink colored brick
is also shown below. The surface has a fine granular texture and a gritty feel. The form is good with
straight and sharp edges and dull or broken corners. No marks were seen on the any of the faces.
The brick spalls easily. The brick interior contains mostly subangular white quartz and 5 percent
subangular white feldspar and other unidentified minerals, all less than 1/16 inch across. In the pink
colored brick, the grains are stained a pinkish color with an unknown coloring agent added in the process.
This brick was made using the dry pressed process. Length 8 1/4, width 3 7/8, height 2 1/4 - 2 1/2 inches.
View of the face of the light gray Holland sandstone brick.
View of a side of the light gray Holland sandstone brick.
View of the interior of the light gray Holland sandstone brick.
View of the face of the pink Holland sandstone brick.
View of the interior of the pink Holland sandstone brick.
Aubrey, Lewis E., The Structural and Industrial Materials of California,
California State Mining Bureau Bulletin 38, 1906, p. 166.
Copyright © 2011 Dan Mosier
Another San Francisco Experience, Brick and Clay Record, v. 25, no. 2, August 1906, p. 81-82.
Brick and Clay Record, v. 18, no. 2, 1903, p. 104.
Brick and Clay Record, v. 19, no. 1, 1903, p. 34.
Brick and Clay Record, v. 20, no. 3, 1904, p. 150.
Brick and Clay Record, v. 20, no. 3, 1904, p. 197.
Brick and Clay Record, v. 20, no. 6, 1904, p. 338.
Brick and Clay Record, v. 23, no. 1, 1904, p. 190.
Brick and Clay Record, v. 23, no. 3, 1905, p. 93.
Brick and Clay Record, v. 23, no. 4, 1905, p. 140.
Brick and Clay Record, v. 26, no. 4, 1907, p. 190.
Davis, Fenelon F. and Goldman, Harold B., Mines and Mineral Resources of Contra Costa County,
California, California State Mining Bureau, California Journal of Mines and Geology, v. 54, no. 4,
1958, p. 501-583.
Huguenin, E., and Castello, W. O., Mines and Mineral Resources Contra Costa County, California
State Mining Bureau 17th Report of the State Mineralogist, Mining In California During 1920,
1921, p. 61.
Kelly, Sandra, written communications, 2011.
McMahon,T.A., Official Map of Contra Costa County, 1908.
Michigan Miner, The American Sandstone Brick Machinery Company, Manufacturers of the Komnick System Sandstone
Brick Machinery, Saginaw, Michigan, v. 5, no. 9, Saginaw, Michigan, August 1903, p. 24.
San Francisco City Directories, 1903-1920.