California brick
CALIFORNIA BRICKS


Los Angeles Brick Company Plant No. 2, East Seventh Street, Los Angeles

Los Angeles Brick Company advertisement. Los Angeles City Directory, 1924.
Los Angeles Brick Company advertisement. Los Angeles City Directory, 1924.

History


In January 1900, several Los Angeles capitalists formed a new brick trust to control the brick trade in Los Angeles, California. They negotiated with the owners of ten brickyards in Los Angeles for the purchase of their property. They were successful in purchasing five of the brickyard properties. These included two brickyards owned by Goss and Hubbard, who operated under the name of City Brick Company at Chavez Ravine and at Mission Road; the yard of Edward Simons in Chavez Ravine; the yard of Reuben G. Simons on East Seventh Street; and the yard of Thomas Joyce in Chavez Ravine. The other five brickyard owners refused to join the brick trust. It was stipulated by the brick trust that the former owners must keep out of the brick business in that neighborhood unless hired by the new corporation.

On January 10, 1900, a newspaper reported that the Los Angeles Brick Company was incorporated with a capital stock of $500,000, divided into 5,000 shares, of which amount $20,000 had been subscribed. The directors were W. F. Botsford, T. E. Newlin, M. H. Newmark, George W. Beck, M. S. Hellman, and Samuel M. Newmark, all of Los Angeles. Other stockholders were Phineas Newmark, J. F. Sartori, Henderson Hayward, and A. H. Conger. Initial officers were W. F. Botsford as president, M. H. Newmark as vice-president, and T. E. Newlin as secretary and manager. The company office was located at 125 West Second Street in Los Angeles and at the Security Building at 510 South Spring Street in Los Angeles, before it was later moved to its yard on Mission Road in Los Angeles.

This article will focus on the Los Angeles Brick Company Plant No. 2, which was formerly operated Reuben G. Simons. This yard of 12 acres was located on the south side of East Seventh Street and west of South Boyle Avenue in Los Angeles. In January 1900, Reuben G. Simons sold the property to the Los Angeles Brick Company for $35,133.

The clay mined was in the upper part of the Boyle Heights Terrace formation. The clay is 5 to 10 feet thick, containing numerous enclosures of sandy material. Sand and gravel underlies the clay bed. The clay was ground in a pug-mill and then passed through a roller crusher. The bricks were made in a Potts soft-mud machine, driven by electric power. Only common bricks were made at this yard. The bottom faces of each brick were imprinted with the company abbreviations "LABCo" or "LABCO." The bricks from this yard are distinctive in displaying abundant clasts of white quartz and granite, some of which are well-rounded pebbles. The bricks were air dried. From 1900 to about 1929, the bricks were burned in open field kilns and a continuous kiln, which was elliptical in shape, being 150 feet in length and 50 feet in width. Oil was used as fuel. Rope conveyors were used to deliver the brick pallets from the brick presses to the drying yard.

Plant No. 2 supplied bricks for Los Angeles from 1900 to about 1929. Wagons and later trucks were used to haul the bricks to job sites or sales yards. The LABCO bricks were used mostly in the foundations, back, sides, and interior walls of buildings. A significant number of buildings and homes in Los Angeles was probably constructed of these bricks during the active years of this yard.

Encroaching neighborhood, complaints of pollution, and the increasing value of land eventually force this brickyard to close. Today, all evidence of this brickyard has been erased when the Golden State Highway, Interstate 5, Interstate 10, and Highway 101, all cut through the property.

LABCo Bricks from Plant No. 2

Before I describe the bricks, I would like to mention that because the Los Angeles Brick Company owned many brickyards, studying the bricks made by this company has been most challenging because reports of the bricks used in many of the buildings in Los Angeles did not specify which of the five brickyards, all of which were operating simultaneously, supplied the bricks. Quantities of bricks from different yards were likely mixed when sent to large brick jobs or sales yards. The identification of the brickyards from which the different Los Angeles Brick Company bricks were manufactured was achieved by comparing with known brick samples that were found at the brickyard site and their mineral compositions, but there are no samples of brick from some of the yards. The lack of known bricks from the brickyards therefore prevent verification of brickyard origin. There were three brickyards in Chavez Ravine and two of them were mining similar material. The other two brickyards in the Boyle Heights district also mined similar materials, making it difficult to distinguish the plant origin. News of the type of machinery used also aided in distinguishing some of the bricks to their brickyard origins. However, four of the brickyards used the same type of soft-mud brick machine, so the processing marks in those bricks are all similar. The brick samples that I display under the various brickyards of this company are therefore preliminary and may change with further research and additional information.

LABCo Common Brick

The LABCo common brick is orange red and uniform in color. Form is good with straight dull edges and dull corners. Surface has sparse subangular white quartz sand coating, and abundant clasts of quartz and granite may be visible. Irregular lip 1/4 inch thick is present along the top edges. Top face is rough and pitted with a weak longitudinal strike, transverse stack indentations, and visible quartz or granite clasts. The marked face displays the company abbreviations of "LABCo" in raised block letters that span 4 1/2 inches and stand 1 inch in height and are 1/8 inch in thickness. The lowercase "o" is 3/4 inch tall. The letters are centered inside a rectangular frog 5 7/8 inches long, 2 inches wide, and 1/8 inch deep, with poorly formed beveled sides. Interior consists of 20 percent subrounded and subangular white quartz, subrounded to subangular granite, rounded black iron oxides, all 1/16 to 1/2 inch in diameter, in a quartz-rich sandy clay body. This brick was made using the soft-mud process. Length 8 3/8, width 4, height 2 3/8 inches.

View of the marked face of the LABCo common brick.
View of the marked face of the LABCo common brick. Donated by George L. Kennedy.

View of the side of the LABCo common brick.
View of the side of the LABCo common brick with an irregular lip along the top.

View of the unmarked face of the LABCo end-cut brick.
View of the unmarked face of the LABCo commom brick with the abundant white quartz and granite. White coating is mortar.

View of the end of the LABCo common brick.
View of the end of the LABCo common brick.

View of the interior of the LABCo common brick showing abundant white quartz and granite clasts.
View of the interior of the LABCo common brick
showing abundant white quartz and granite clasts.

The L.A.B.Co. common brick is pale orange red and uniform in color. Form is good with straight dull edges and dull corners. Surface is smooth with no sand, but shiny mica and abundant clasts of quartz and granite may be visible. Irregular lip 1/4 inch thick is present along the top edges. Top face is rough and pitted with a weak longitudinal strike, and visible quartz and granite pebbles. The marked face displays the company abbreviations of "L.A.B.Co." in raised block letters that span 4 3/4 inches and stand 1 1/4 inch in height and are 1/8 inch in thickness. The lowercase "o" is 3/4 inch tall. Round periods are present in this example. The letters are centered inside a rectangular frog 6 inches long, 1 7/8 inches wide, and 1/8 inch deep, with beveled sides. Interior consists of 15 percent subangular white quartz, subrounded to subangular granite, subrounded sandstone, rounded black iron oxides, all 1/16 to 3/4 inch in diameter, in a fine sandy clay body. This brick was made using the soft-mud process. Length 8 1/2, width 3 7/8, height 2 3/8 inches.

View of the marked face of the LABCo common brick.
View of the marked face of the LABCo common brick. Donated by Max Cusimano.

View of the side of the LABCo common brick showing an irregular lip along the top.
View of the side of the LABCo common brick showing an irregular lip along the top.

View of the unmarked face of the LABCo common brick.
View of the unmarked face of the LABCo commom brick.

View of the end of the LABCo common brick.
View of the end of the LABCo common brick.

View of the interior of the LABCo common brick showing mostly abundant quartz and granite.
View of the interior of the LABCo common brick
showing mostly abundant quartz and granite.

LABCO Common Brick

The LABCO common brick is orange red and uniform in color. Form is good with straight sharp edges and dull corners. Surface is smooth with no sand. Irregular lip 1/8 inch thick is present along the top edges. Top face is rough and pitted with a longitudinal strike and visible quartz. The marked face displays the company abbreviations of "LABCO" in raised squarish block letters that span 5 inches and stand 1 1/4 inch in height and are 1/8 inch in thickness. The letter "A" has a low crossbar. The letters are centered inside a rectangular frog 6 inches long, 2 1/4 inches wide, and 1/8 inch deep, with poorly formed beveled sides. Interior consists of 15 percent subrounded and subangular white quartz and rounded black iron oxides, all 1/16 to 1/2 inch in diameter, in a quartz-rich sandy clay body. This brick was made using the soft-mud process. Length 8 1/4, width 3 3/4, height 2 1/4 inches.

View of the marked face of the LABCO common brick.
View of the marked face of the LABCO common brick.

View of the side of the LABCO common brick showing an irregular lip along the bottom.
View of the side of the LABCO common brick showing an irregular lip along the bottom.

View of the unmarked face of the LABCO common brick.
View of the unmarked face of the LABCO commom brick.

View of the interior of the LABCO common brick showing mostly abundant quartz and black iron oxides.
View of the interior of the LABCO common brick
showing mostly abundant quartz and black iron oxides.

References

Aubrey, Lewis E., The Structural and Industrial Materials of California, California Mining Bureau Bulletin 38, Sacramento, CA, 1906.

Brick, v. 12, no. 2, February 1900, p. 97.

Brick, v. 24, no. 5, May 1906, p. 260.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 50, no. 5, 1917, p. 459.

Brick Plant Fumes Are Nuisance, States Powers, Los Angeles Herald, April 15, 1920.

Clay Worker, v. 33, no. 2, February 1900, p. 184.

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

Double Output of Brick Plant, Los Angeles Times, November 27, 1921.

Los Angeles Brick Company, Fire Brick, Catalog, February 1926.

Los Angeles City Directory, 1900.

Los Angeles City Directory, 1924.

Los Angeles Herald, May 17, 1907.

Merrill, F. J. H., Los Angeles County, Orange County, and Riverside County, California State Mining Bureau 15th Report, pt. 4, December 1917.

Three New Incorporations, Los Angeles Herald, January 10, 1900.

Transfers, $1000 and Over, Los Angeles Herald, January 14, 1900.

Copyright 2016 Dan Mosier

Contact Dan Mosier at danmosier@earthlink.net.