William Whipple Hull
William Whipple Hull, a New York native, arrived in San Carlos in 1858 and purchased 45 acres of land
from Timothy Guy Phelps. He established his brickyard, known as the "Pioneer Brick Yard," on what was then
called Cypress Street (now San Carlos Avenue), between Elm and Walnut streets. Clay was taken from surface
pits on his property. Hull may have been the first brickmaker in San Mateo County.
Hull made red common bricks, at first using wooden molds to form the bricks, which were fired in
wood-burning field kilns. By 1885, he was using a brick press to make pressed brick. Hull blended
three different clays from his property to make hard bricks, which were in great demand.
Hull brick advertisement from the San Mateo Times-Gazette, June 29, 1872.
Hull bricks were used in nearly every early brick building in the Belmont, San Carlos, and Redwood City area.
These include the San Mateo County Jail (1876), Hanson's warehouse (1875), Kuck's Building (1872),
Plump's Building (1872), and Germania Hall (1872), all in Redwood City, Flood's Linden Towers Estate (1878)
in Menlo Park, the Hull residence (1875) on Hull Drive in San Carlos, and in the foundations and chimneys of
early homes. Surviving examples of Hull's brick can be seen at the Diller Store (1859) at 726 Main Street
in Redwood City.
Hull bricks were also shipped to San Francisco for construction of the first Palace Hotel, first brick
Post Office, Fort Mason, and San Quentin Prison. These jobs no doubt were born out of his good reputation
as a brickmaker in San Francisco when he first operated a yard on Mission Creek from 1853 to 1857, before
moving to San Carlos.
Diller Store, 726 Main St., Redwood City, made of Hull bricks in 1859.
Such was the demand for Hull brick, that he was called elsewhere to help make bricks on site, such as at
the New Almaden mercury mines near San Jose, brick construction jobs in Gilroy, and even the San Quentin Prison
brickyard in Marin County. Therefore, it is possible to find Hull bricks in other counties around the San Francisco
William Whipple Hull is a descendant of one the signers of the Declaration of Independence, William Whipple.
Hull came to California in 1850 to try his luck in the goldfields. After little success, he returned to San
Francisco, where he met Rosana Duffy of Quincy, Massachusetts. They got married and had three sons and one
daughter. In 1853, Hull established a brickyard on the banks of Mission Creek in San Francisco, where he
supplied bricks for some of the first brick buildings in that city. In 1858, he moved his brickyard to San
Carlos. Hull passed away in November 1904 at the age of 82 years.
His children did not follow him into the brick business. The eldest son Henry was a baggage master at
the Southern Pacific depot. The rest, Guy, Asa, and Mary, embarked in a hardware store business in
Redwood City. Asa also started the San Carlos Dairy and was elected mayor of San Carlos in 1932. The last
member of the Hull family, Mary, lived in the family home until she passed away in 1946. The Hull's two-story
brick home was demolished the following year. The Hull family is interred at the St. John's Cemetery in
Common brick is red to red-brown, with uniform to varied colors. The surface is coated with sand. The edges
are nearly straight and sharp. The corners are dull. The bottom face is flat and even. The top face is rough and
pitted with a longitudinal strike and an irregular thin lip around the edge up to 1/8 inch thick. No maker's marks have
been found on these bricks. The sides may have transverse striations or longitudinal grooves. Some display faint
yellow flashings, overburns, and cracks. The surface may show a few subrounded clasts and pits up to 1/2 inch
across. The interior body contains about 20 percent subrounded to subangular black and gray shale, reddish brown sandstone,
red and white chert, black basalt, and white quartz in a fine porous orange clay body. The clast sizes are mostly less
than 1/4 inch across, but a few are up to 1/2 inch across. This is a hand-molded, soft-mud, sand-struck brick,
in a wide range of sizes. Length 8 1/4 - 8 1/2, width 3 1/4 - 4, height 2 1/4 - 2 3/8 inches.
View of the sides of Hull bricks.
View of the sides of Hull bricks showing the yellow flashing and irregular thin lip.
View of the orange interior clay body of the Hull brick displaying subrounded red
sandstone, red chert, gray and black shale, black basalt, white quartz clasts, and pores.
Garvey, Linda W., San Carlos Stories, An Oral History of the City of Good Living, San Carlos, CA, 2000.
Copyright © 2004 Dan Mosier
Moore and DePue, Illustrated History of San Mateo County, California, 1878.
Gazette-Times, Redwood City, 1872-1885.
Svanevik, Michael, and Burgett, Shirley, San Carlos family left its mark on the Peninsula, San Mateo Times,
September 23, 1994, p. B5.