California brick
CALIFORNIA BRICKS


K. & K. Brick Company

K and K Brick Company Ad
From the Los Angeles City Directory, 1904

History


In 1904, a Los Angeles general contractor, Christian J. Kubach, and Los Angeles realtor, Henry W. Keller, teamed up to form the K. & K. Brick Company in Los Angeles. Keller's father, Matthew Keller, owned 35 acres of land containing the clay deposit in Cemetery Ravine (Bishop Canyon) at the west end of Bishop Road. The site of this brickyard is about where Dodger Stadium now stands. On January 31, 1905, K & K Brick Company was incorporated with a capital stock of $120,000, of which $76,000 had been subscribed. The initial directors were Christian J. Kubach, Henry W. Keller, Walter F. Haas, Harry P. Simons, and E. W. Boehme, all of Los Angeles. Kubach was president of the company. The company office was initially in the Stimson Building at 256 South Spring Street in Los Angeles. The office was moved to numerous locations in the city over the next 30 years.

Map of brickyard site.
K & K brickyard was on the property of M. Keller (center) in Cemetery
Ravine, now site of the Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles. From Stevenson, 1884.


Christian J. Kubach was born in 1855 at Liebenstadt, Germany. He studied architecture at Heidelberg and went to work for his father, Heinrich Kubach, who was in the contracting business. About 1871, he came to Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, to continue contracting work and to learn the English language. In 1875, he went to San Francisco and, in 1877, he went to Los Angeles, where he eventually settled and engaged in the general contracting business. Kubach built many significant buildings in Los Angeles, San Diego, and other cities in Southern California. Some of the buildings in Los Angeles include the Alexandria Hotel Annex, Christian Science building, Wright and Callendar building, Merchants National Bank, Southwest Museum, Turnverein Germania, the Mason building, the store of J.W. Robinson Company, and Los Angeles City Hall, which was his last large contract. In March 1903, he organized the C. J. Kubach Company to manage his building construction projects. The bricks he made were used in many of his buildings, one of which from the Alexandria Hotel Annex, provides examples of his fine brick. In 1883, Kubach married Sophia Wetterhauer, also a native of Germany, and they raised two daughters. Kubach passed away in 1929.

C. J. Kubach and K & K Brick Company advertisements. From Southwest Builder and Contractor, 1922.
C. J. Kubach Company and K & K Brick Company adver-
tisements. From Southwest Builder and Contractor, 1922.


Henry W. Keller was born in Los Angeles, California, in 1869. In 1894, he married Mary A. Boehme and they raised eight children. He was in the real estate business before he joined Kubach in the brick business. In 1910, he was selling brick and cement and later he returned to selling real estate as president of the South Coast Land Company. Keller passed away in 1958.

View of the shale quarry. From Brick and Clay Record, 1913.
View of the shale quarry. From Brick and Clay Record, 1913.

Mining at the shale quarry. From Brick and Clay Record, 1913.
Loading car at the shale quarry. From Brick and Clay Record, 1913.


Clay and shale were mined in a quarry by men with shovel and picks. The material was loaded into cars on tracks that were sent down to the quarry floor and dumped into a large bin below the surface. Then it went to a car drawn by a horse through a tunnel in the side of a hill to the crusher storage bin. The clay initially was soft enough to be crushed by a dry pan. By 1913, the company ran into hard flinty shale that was difficult to crush using the dry pan. So they installed the No. 6 Williams' Deck Sweeper Crushers to crush the hard rock. The material was taken from four parts of the deposit. A sand pit on the property provided the sand that was added to the mixture.

View of the K & K brick plant and shale quarry in the back. From Brick and Clay Record, 1913.
View of the K & K brick plant (center), field kilns (lower left) and
shale quarry (upper left) on the hillside. From Brick and Clay Record, 1913.


The plant, built in 1905, was powered by electricity produced by a 250 h.p. boiler and 200 h.p. engine. The bricks were made in a Raymond brick machine and Fate wire-cutter, making end-cut bricks. The cut bricks were dried in a steam-heated drier and burned in an open kiln fired by oil. The plant capacity was about 74,000 bricks per day. The yard employed 35 workers.

View of the crusher at the K & K brick plant. From Brick and Clay Record, 1913.
View of the crusher at the K & K brick plant. From Brick and Clay Record, 1913.


Most of the K & K bricks were used in construction jobs by the C. J. Kubach Company, but some were available for sale at their yard on Bishop Road. The company's advertisements revealed that they sold common, blue, repressed, and tapestry bricks and tile. Unfortunately, not many of the brick types are available now because they have been covered by stucco or other materials or the buildings have been modified or demolished. Examples of the end-cut common brick are partly exposed in the walls of the Alexandria Hotel Annex at Spring and Fifth streets, Los Angeles, and these are shown below. Fortunately, James Freedner was able to locate some K & K used brick at a building material yard in Los Angeles County that enabled us to provide additional details of the common wire-cut brick. None of the bricks found were marked.

The K & K Brick Company operated until about 1938, when George Snyder was president of the company. That was the year the company was last listed in the city directories. The area was already targeted for development, including a new baseball stadium, which was to be built starting in 1959. Huge excavations removed hill tops and filled ravines, destroying the site of the old brickyard.

Brick

Common wire-cut brick is a pale orange-red and uniform in color. The form is excellent with straight edges. The sides and faces are smooth. The ends display longitudinal velour texture with short transverse wire-cut grooves. The long edges are rounded. Longitudinal grooves may be present on the sides and faces. Stack indentations may be present on the sides. The interior consists of 15 percent subangular white clay, subangular gray shale, and subrounded red sandstone, all less than 1/2 inch in diameter, and minor subangular orange-stained quartz and round grains of black iron oxide, all less than 1/8 inch in diameter, in a compact granular sandy clay body. This brick was made using the stiff-mud process, extruded, and end-cut. Alexandria Hotel brick: length 8, width 3 3/4, height 2 1/8 inches; brick from James Freedner: length 8 1/2, width 4, height 2 3/8 inches.

View of K & K bricks in the exterior wall of the Alexandria Hotel, Los Angeles.
View of K & K bricks in the exterior wall of the Alexandria Hotel, Los Angeles.

View of K & K bricks in the exterior wall of the Alexandria Hotel, Los Angeles.
View of painted K & K bricks in the exterior wall of the Alexandria Hotel,
Los Angeles. Note stack indentations on the side of the brick at the bottom.

View of the interiors of K & K bricks in the exterior wall of the Alexandria Hotel, showing specks of white clay.
View of the interiors of K & K bricks in the exterior wall of the Alexandria Hotel, showing specks of white clay.

View of the face of the K & K brick. Donated by James Freedner.
View of the face of the K & K brick. Donated by James Freedner.

View of the side of the K & K brick. Donated by James Freedner.
View of the side of the K & K brick. Donated by James Freedner.

View of the wire-cut end of the K & K brick. Donated by James Freedner.
View of the wire-cut end of the K & K brick
showing velour texture. Donated by James Freedner.

View of the interior of the K & K brick showing white clay, rounded sandstone, and gray shale.
View of the interior of the K & K brick
showing white clay, rounded sandstone, and
gray shale. Photo courtesy of James Freedner.

View of the interior of the K & K brick showing white clay, rounded sandstone, and gray shale.
View of the interior of the K & K brick showing
white clay, rounded sandstone, gray shale, and pits
in the clay body. Photo courtesy of James Freedner.

References

Architect and Engineer, v. 8, no. 2, March 1907, p. 113.

Brick, v. 22, no. 3, 1905, p. 201.

Building Permits, Los Angeles Herald, January 2,1905.

California Death Index.

Clay Record, v. 26, no. 3, February 14, 1905, p. 43.

Federal Census Records, 1880.

Federal Census Records, 1900.

Federal Census Records, 1910.

Federal Census Records, 1920.

Federal Census Records, 1930.

Federal Census Records, 1940.

Freedner, James, personal communications, 2015.

California Secretary of State, State Corporations, Journal of the Senate of the State of California, 1908, p. 74.

Guinn, J.M., A History of California and an Extended History of Los Angeles and Environs, Biographical, v. 2 Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, Cal., 1915, p. 444-447.

Hardison, Jocelyn, Family Tree, Ancestry.com, 2015.

Los Angeles City Directory, 1904.

Los Angeles City Directory, 1912.

Los Angeles City Directory, 1913.

Los Angeles City Directory, 1938.

Los Angeles City Hall, Gladding McBean and Company, Shapes of Clay, v. 4, no. 3, June 1928.

Makes Brick from Rock-Like Shale, Brick and Clay Record, v. 42, no. 8, 1913, p. 654.

Masters, Nathan, They Moved Mountains to Build Dodger Stadium, KCET, Los Angeles, October 11, 2013 (http://www.kcet.org/updaily/socal_focus/history/la-as-subject/they-moved-mountains-to-build-dodger-stadium.html).

Merrill, F.J.H., Los Angeles County, Orange County, Riverside County, California State Mining Bureau 15th Report of the State Mineralogist, part 4, 1917, p. 461-589.

Southwest Builder and Contractor, v. 59, no. 30, July 28, 1922, p. 33.

Stevenson, H.J., Map of the City of Los Angeles, California, scale 1200 feet per inch, 1884.

Copyright 2015 Dan Mosier

Contact Dan Mosier at danmosier@earthlink.net.