California brick
CALIFORNIA BRICKS


Lynn Brick Company

History


Bert Lynn
In 1946, Bert M. Lynn (shown right from the Torrance Herald, 1961) reopened the abandoned brickyard of the Long Beach Brick Company at 25901 Normandie Avenue in Harbor City, Los Angeles County, California. He recognized the need for building brick in the growing city in which he had an intense interest in developing. The property covered 4.57 acres and had a pit that was 450 feet long, 300 feet wide, and 50 feet deep in brownish red sandy clay that bottomed in sand with no overburden. This pit was originally dug by the Long Beach Brick Company during the 1920s. The clay was mined by a gasoline shovel and loaded on trucks that hauled the clay 100 to 200 yards to the plant, located on the south side of the pit. Material was shipped from other pits in the area when the main pit was depleted by 1952.

The plant consisted of a dry-pan grinder, screens, hopper, combination pug-mill and de-airing auger machine, wire-cutter, and a hot air drier. The stiff-mud process was used to make common building brick and hollow building tile. The plant had a capacity to make 35,000 brick per day with 15 employees. The clay products were fired in field kilns. It operated only in the dry season.

Advertisement from the Torrance Herald, 1954.
Advertisement from the Torrance Herald, 1954.

According to Ronald Higgins, Lynn had trouble making bricks and had to use Higgins bricks from Torrance to help fill orders. Because Lynn operated his brickyard for only 8 years, his bricks are not widely available to examine now. A couple of the buildings that he supplied bricks for include the YWCA (1950) at 2320 Carson Street and the Acacia Medical Center (1950) at 2406 Torrance Blvd. Advertisements indicate that Lynn bricks were shipped locally in the Torrance and Harbor City area. Lynn bricks may be in some of the homes and chimneys in the area. A half bat sample from the brickyard site provides the description for Lynn brick below.

Advertisement from the Torrance Herald, 1946.
Advertisement from the Torrance Herald, 1946.

In 1954, Bert Lynn left the brick business to pursue civic work. The brickyard was operated afterwards by Stan May and Hal Bowen. Today, the brickyard site is occupied by Kaiser Hospital and the clay pit has been partly filled for the parking lot.

Bert M. Lynn was born in Mount Vernon, New York, in 1917, to Adolf and Lena Lynn. He was educated at Mount Vernon High School and Alfred University in western New York, where he obtained a degree in ceramics engineering. In 1940, he went to Los Angeles and found employment as an engineer at a brick factory. During World War II, Lynn served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy. In April 1946, Lynn was elected president of the Harbor City Chamber of Commerce and launched a campaign to put Harbor City on the map. In 1954, he became a member of the Torrance Planning Commission and two years later was elected its president. Lynn was involved with many other organizations, including the Community Chest, City of Hope's Torrance Chapter, the United Jewish Welfare, Shoemaker School Therapy Pool Fund, YMCA, Century Club, Little League, and others. Starting in 1961, Lynn served three terms on the Torrance school board. Residence of Torrance are familiar with his namesake on the Bert M. Lynn Middle School at 5038 Halison Avenue. In 1972, the Torrance school board changed the name of Flavian Elementary School when it was converted to a middle school and named in Lynn's honor. Lynn died in 1972 at the age of 54 of complications following a surgery. His wife was Lilyan Presser, a California native, and they raised two sons.

Lynn Brick

The common brick is dark red and uniform in color. The edges are nearly sharp. The brick has smooth sides with faint transverse striations. The faces show a strong velour texture at an angle to the edges of the brick with short grooves normal to the velour texture, indicating wire-cut faces. The interior is compact and hard. It contains 3 percent subangular white glassy quartz, round black iron oxide, and round yellow clay, all less than 1/16 inch in diameter, in a sandy red clay body. This brick was made using the stiff-mud process, extruded, and wire-cut. Length ?, width 3 3/8, height 2 1/2 inches.

View of the side of the Lynn common brick bat.
View of the side of the Lynn common brick bat.

View of the face of the Lynn common brick bat showing the velour texture.
View of the face of the Lynn common brick bat showing the velour texture.

View of the interior of the Lynn common brick.
View of the interior of the Lynn common brick.

Microscopic view of the interior of the Lynn common brick (50x, field of view 1/4 inch).
Microscopic view of the interior of the Lynn
common brick (50x, field of view 1/4 inch). White
quartz and brown iron oxide are visible.

References

Builder Cited for Land Use Violation, Torrance Herald, June 12, 1952.

California Death Index.

Doctors Invite Inspection of New Professional Building, Torrance Herald, November 23, 1950.

Federal Census Records, 1930.

Federal Census Records, 1940.

Gay, T.E., and Hoffman, S.R., Mines and Mineral Resources of Los Angeles County, California, California State Mining Bureau, California Journal of Mines and Geology, v. 50, no. 3-4, 1954, p. 467-709.

Gnerre, Sam, Bert Lynn, Daily Breeze, South Bay History, June 29, 2011, blogs.dailybreeze.com/history/2011/06/29/bert-lynn/ (accessed March 26, 2015).

Harbor City Chamber Launches New Membership Campaign, Torrance Herald, April 25, 1946.

Higgins, Ronald, personal communications, 2014.

Higgins, Josh, personal communications, 2014.

Jenkins, O.P., Mineral Resources and Production, Counties of California - 1947, California Division of Mines Bulletin 142, 1949, p. 153.

Lynn to Fight City on Land Use Violation, Torrance Herald, August 14, 1952.

Millions of Bricks, Torrance Herald, August 12, 1954.

Planning Commission President Lynn Files for School Election, Torrance Herald, March 16, 1961.

Presser Family Tree, Ancestry.com (accessed March 26, 2015).

San Pedro and Wilmington Phone Book, 1946.

Torrance City Directory, 1949.

Torrance City Directory, 1956.

YWCA Building Committee Named, Torrance Herald, September 21, 1950.

Copyright 2015 Dan Mosier

Contact Dan Mosier at danmosier@earthlink.net.