California brick
CALIFORNIA BRICKS


Los Angeles Paving Brick Company

History


In April 1908, the Los Angeles Paving Brick Company, under the management of William Mulford, opened a new brickyard at Montebello for the manufacture of paving and fancy brick. On April 3, 1908, the Los Angeles Paving Brick Company was incorporated at Newmark (now Montebello), California, with a capital stock of $100,000. In 1909, the capital stock was increased to $150,000. The brickyard was located on the southeast corner of Alameda Street and Stephenson Avenue (now Whittier Blvd.) in Montebello. Here they found a vitrified clay deposit that was desirable for making vitrified brick. The company office was located at 206 South Spring Street in Los Angeles. In 1910, A.J. Meidroth was the general manager.

The brickyard plant was described as being modern with a capacity of 60,000 paving block per day. The bricks were fired in oil-fired kilns. In 1910, a new kiln was designed and built by the plant superintendent George C. Little, who was formerly with the Denny-Renton Brick Company in Seattle, Washington, which was renowned for their paving brick on the Pacific Coast. From the brick, it is evident that the material used was a vitrified clay ground to a powder and mixed in a pug-mill. Initially, dry pans and a roller crusher were used to grind the material but these did not work well. The Williams No. 2 hammer machine gave better results. The mixture was extruded in a stiff-mud brick machine and cut, either by wire or blade, on faces. A repress brick machine was used to compact the brick and imprint the name and lugs on the face. The plant was to employ about 60 workers, but the actual number was probably less.

The main product was red paving brick, which were marked with the company name as L.A. PAVING BRICK CO on the face along with raised arrowheads serving as lugs. The paving brick is vitrified and compact, though it does spall easily, which may have been a problem for this brick. These bricks were shipped throughout the Pacific Coast, but were mostly used in paving streets in Los Angeles.

This brickyard closed in 1916 and the California State Mining Bureau reported that it was not operating in 1917. This may have been one of the brickyards that was leased in 1916 by the Montebello Brick Company. However, the Los Angeles Paving Brick Company continued to be listed in the city directories as late as 1918, about when it was probably dissolved. The closure no doubt was due to the decrease in demand for paving brick as asphalt came into favor for street paving.

Los Angeles Paving Brick

Two styles of paving brick made by this company differ slightly in size. The brick ranges in color from a brownish red to cherry red and may show some gradations of color in the same brick. A peculiar feature in coloring is noted where the edges of the brick may be darker in color than the rest of the brick. The surface is smooth but with tiny pits. Some surfaces display tiny clasts of quartz, feldspar, or granite, and these, particularly the feldspar, may sparkle in the sunlight. The form is good, but usually irregular due to stacking, which deformed some shapes. The longer edges are rounded and display repressed lines along the top and bottom edges of the long sides. The shorter edges on the ends of the brick are sharp. The corners are sharp, if not worn. The sides usually display a couple of stack indentations. The unmarked face shows a faint velour texture with transverse grooves due to cutting. Also present are a series of parallel longitudinal dashes, which are imprints from the conveyor belt. The marked face shows the company name in recessed thin block letters as L.A. PAVING BRICK CO, which is split into three lines. On the larger size brick, the first line has L.A., which spans 1 1/2 inches and the periods are squares; the second line has PAVING, which spans 3 1/2 inches; and the third line has BRICK CO, which spans 4 1/4 inches, and all letters stand 5/8 inch in height. An arrowhead lug to the left of the name points upward and is 1 3/8 inches in length, 1 inch in width, and is raised 1/8 inch in height. Another arrowhead of similar size to the right of the name points downward. On the smaller size brick, the first line with L.A. spans 1 7/8 inches and the periods are square; the second line with PAVING spans 3 inches; and the third line with BRICK CO spans 3 3/4 inches; all letters are 1/2 inch in height. The arrowheads arranged similarly are 1 1/2 inches in length, 1 1/8 inches in width, and are raised 1/16 inch in height. These differences indicate a change in the mold sizes in the repress brick machine. The interior contains as much as 3 percent white subangular quartz, cream subangular feldspar, and cream subangular granite, all less than 1/16 inch in diameter, in a very compact and fine, red, vitrified clay body. This brick was made using the stiff-mud process and repressed. Two different sizes are noted. The larger brick has length 8 1/2, width 3 1/2, height 3 3/8 inches. The smaller brick has length 8 3/8, width 3 7/8, height 3 1/4 inches.

View of the marked face of the Los Angeles paving brick, showing the small size version.
View of the marked face of the Los Angeles paving brick, showing the small size version.

View of the side of the Los Angeles paving brick.
View of the side of the Los Angeles paving brick. Note the repressed edges along the top and bottom.

View of the unmarked face of the Los Angeles paving brick, showing the dashes of the conveyor belt imprints, partly covered by white mortar.
View of the unmarked face of the Los Angeles paving brick, showing the dashes of the conveyor belt imprints, partly covered by white mortar.

View of the end of the Los Angeles paving brick.
View of the end of the Los Angeles paving brick.

View of the vitrified interior of the Los Angeles paving brick.
View of the vitrified interior of the Los Angeles paving brick.

Microscopic view of the vitrified interior clay body of the Los Angeles paving brick (50x, field of view is 1/4 inch).
Microscopic view of the vitrified interior clay body of the
Los Angeles paving brick (50x, field of view is 1/4 inch).

View of the marked face of the Los Angeles paving brick, showing the large size version.
View of the marked face of the Los Angeles paving brick, showing the large size version.

View of the marked face of the Los Angeles paving brick, showing the large size version.
View of the marked face of the Los Angeles paving brick, showing the large size version. Photo courtesy of Ron Anjard.

View of the marked face of the Los Angeles paving brick, showing a prominent beveled edge.
View of the marked face of the Los Angeles paving brick, showing a prominent beveled edge. Photo courtesy of Ron Anjard.

References

Brick and Clay Record, v. 30, no. 6, 1909, p. 301.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 32, no. 1, 1910, p. 77.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 49, no. 12, 1916, p. 1110.

California Secretary of State, State Corporations, Biennial Report of the Secretary of State of the State of California for the Fifty-Eighth and Fifty-Ninth Fiscal Years Beginning July 1, 1906, and Ending June 30, 1908, Sacramento, California, 1908, p. 29-139.

Clay Record, v. 36, no. 1, January 1910, p. 27.

Los Angeles City Directories, 1910-1918.

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.

New Brick Industry Starts At Montebello, Los Angeles Herald, April 19, 1908.

Troubles At An End, Brick and Clay Record, v. 38, no. 5, 1911, p. 269.

Copyright 2014 Dan Mosier

Contact Dan Mosier at danmosier@earthlink.net.