California brick
CALIFORNIA BRICKS


Levi and Keener

View of the Levi Store, first brick building at Julian.
View of the Levi-Marks Store, first brick building at Julian. Photograph by Dan Mosier, 2015.

History


In 1886, the first brick store was erected at Julian, San Diego County, California, according to a historic plaque on the building. Julian was an early gold mining camp. The bricks were from the kilns of Ike Levi and George W. Keener. Over 100,000 common red brick were made at two brickyard locations, one on the flat east of Julian and another on the Duffy Ranch located one mile west of Julian. The store building was built for the original owners Adolph Levi and Joseph Marks.

View of the Levi Store historic plaque.
View of the Levi-Marks Store historic plaque. Photograph by Dan Mosier, 2015.

Descriptions of the brickyards were not found. However, from the surviving bricks, evidence indicates local surface clay was used and formed in wooden molds that were sand-struck. The kilns were probably of the field-kiln type fired by wood. George Keener was the kiln burner.

It was reported that 100,000 bricks were used in the Levi-Marks store building. Several other early brick buildings were also erected at Julian using bricks probably from these same brickyards, but these buildings did not survive.

Unfortunately, the bricks in the Levi-Marks store have been painted and therefore prevented a complete description of the brick. A few unpainted brick used in the planter at the base of the building that appear to match with the brick in the building provided some of the description for the brick.

Levi and Keener Brick

The Levi and Keener common brick is red to orange-red and uniform in color. Form is good with dull indulating edges and dull corners. Surface is sand coated in uneven patches and displays pits. Sides display transverse striations and an irregular lip, 1/2 inch thick, occur on some bricks. Subrounded white quartz is visible on the surface. Bottom face is flat with some pitting. Top face was not exposed for description. Interior consists of porous sandy clay containing 10 to 15 percent of mostly subrounded white quartz and red clay, and lesser amounts of subangular gray mica schist and gray volcanic porphyry, all mostly less than 1/4 inch in diameter, but may be as large as 1/2 inch across. This brick was made using the soft-mud process. Length 8 1/8, width 3 1/2 - 3 3/4, height 2 1/8 inches.

View of the painted sides of the Levi and Keener common brick.
View of the painted sides of the Levi and Keener common brick in the wall of the Levi-Marks store.

View of the bottom face of the Levi and Keener common brick.
View of the bottom face and side of the Levi and Keener common brick.

Close-up view of the surface of the Levi and Keener common brick.
Close-up view of the surface of the Levi and Keener common brick.

View of the interior clay body of the Levi and Keener common brick.
View of the interior clay body of the Levi and Keener common brick.

References

Botts, Myrtle. History of Julian. Julian Historical Society, Julian, CA, 1969, p. 29.

Julian Historical Society. Levi-Marks Store 1886. Building Plaque. Julian, CA.

Copyright 2018 Dan Mosier

Contact Dan Mosier at danmosier@earthlink.net.