California brick
CALIFORNIA BRICKS


Los Angeles Brick Company Plant No. 3, Mission Road, 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.

View of the marked face of the LABCO common brick.
View of the Los Angeles Brick Company office at 1078 Mission
Road, Los Angeles. From Los Angeles Brick Company, 1926.

This article will focus on the Los Angeles Brick Company Plant No. 3, which was formerly operated as the East Yard of the City Brick Company of Goss and Hubbard. This yard of 15 acres was located at 1078 Mission Road at Marengo Street in Los Angeles. The City Brick Company sold this property to the Los Angeles Brick Company in January 1900. In January 1902, because residents of the Boyle Heights neighborhood wanted to move all brickyards out of the district, the company was required to apply for a permit and public hearing to keep its yard location. The City of Los Angeles approved the permit for this brickyard.

The clay mined was 25 to 30 feet thick resting on five or six feet of sand. 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." The bricks from this yard are distinctive in displaying sparse clasts of white clay, quartz, and granite. The bricks were air dried. From 1900 to about the mid-1920s, the bricks were burned in a Hoffman continuous kiln, which was elliptical in shape, being 175 feet in length and 52 feet in width. The outside ring of the kiln was 12 feet wide and the chambers were 12 feet long. The firing flues, 4 by 4 inches, were in rows 3 1/2 feet apart and five in a row. Fine coal was used as fuel. Its capacity was 25,000 to 30,000 bricks per day and it took 15 to 17 days to burn the bricks. In the mid-1920s, the continuous kiln was dismantled and replaced by open field kilns for burning using natural gas as fuel. Capacity was increased to 80,000 bricks per day. In 1927, 66 six-brick maple molds were ordered, indicating that the Potts brick machine was no longer used and sand-molded common bricks were made. From the 9 1/16-inch length of the mold, the sand-molded brick could be longer than those made in the Potts machine, which averaged around 8 1/4 inches in length. Rope conveyors were used to deliver the brick pallets from the brick presses to the drying yard.

Plant No. 3 supplied bricks for Los Angeles from 1900 to about 1930. 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.

In 1928, the company office was moved from downtown Los Angeles to this yard. By 1930, the local clay deposit was exhausted and brickmaking at this yard ended. Afterwards, it became a sales yard for the products made at Plant No. 4 at Alberhill in Riverside County. In 1936, the company changed its name to the Los Angeles Brick and Clay Products Company. The Mission Road sales yard closed in 1957 and the office was moved to 2310 East Seventh Street in Los Angeles. Today, all evidence of this brickyard has been erased when the Golden State Highway, Interstate 5, cut through the property.

LABCo Bricks from Plant No. 3

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 pale red and uniform in color. Form is good with straight sharp edges and dull corners. Surface is smooth with no sand coating, but a few clasts of white clay, 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 longitudinal strike and visible quartz or granite clasts. The marked face displays the company abbreviations of "LABCO" in raised squarish block letters that span 5 inches and stand 1 1/4 inches 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 1/4 inches long, 2 1/4 inches wide, and 1/8 inch deep, with poorly formed beveled sides. Interior consists of 3 percent subrounded white clay, subangular white quartz, subrounded to subangular granite, rounded black iron oxides, all 1/16 to 1/2 inch in diameter, in a porous, fine sandy clay body. This brick was made using the soft-mud process. Length 8 1/4, width 3 7/8, 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. 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 distinctive white clay 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 white clay and quartz.
View of the interior of the LABCO common
brick showing white clay and quartz clasts.

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 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. 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 white clay, granite, and tiny white quartz.
View of the interior of the LABCO common brick
showing white clay, granite, and tiny white quartz.

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.

Council Will Hear Brickyard Applications, Los Angeles Herald, January 11, 1902.

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

Davis, Fenelon F., and Goldman, Harold B., Directory of Mineral Producers in 1959, California Division of Mines 57th Report of the State Mineralogist, 1961, p. 125-184.

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.

Grants Four Permits, Los Angeles Herald, January 28, 1902.

Higgins, Josh, written communications per Clay Machinery ledgers, 2013.

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

Los Angeles City Directory, 1900.

Los Angeles City Directory, 1924.

Los Angeles City Directory, 1928.

Los Angeles City Directory, 1936.

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.

Symons, Henry H., and Davis, Fenelon F., Directory of California Mineral Producers, Dealers and Laboratories, 1958, California Division of Mines 56th Report of the State Mineralogist, 1960, p. 138-187.

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.