California brick
CALIFORNIA BRICKS


McMaster & Barker

History


In 1852, Job C. McMaster and Mr. Barker built a brick-making plant at the corner of Wyatt (Second) and Robinson (K) streets in Antioch. McMaster was a carpenter from Sullivan, Maine, who came to Antioch in 1851 and helped lay out the town of Antioch. He was also engaged in the stock-raising and dairy business and served as a member of the Board of Supervisor and town marshall. Nothing is known of his partner Mr. Barker, however, this may be the Henry Barker who later opened a brickyard in Marin County. The clay deposit was mined from a pit on the west side of the plant and can still be seen today as a shallow depression. Common building bricks were manufactured here and used locally. The bricks were hand-molded. The kilns, which were probably field kilns fired by wood fuel, were first located where the Roswell Hard brick house stands today at 815 First St. McMaster and Barker sold their brick plant to Isaac Nicholson in 1868. See the Albion Pottery for the continuation of this history.

McMaster & Barker Brick

Common brick is orange red to pale red, mostly uniform in color. The sides are sand-struck with an irregular lip up to 1/4 inch around the top edges. The sides and edges are uneven. Fine transverse grooves can be seen on some sides or ends. The bottom face is flat and may have minor pits. The top face is highly pitted with rounded chuncks of red clay, or occasional subrounded cream clay, up to 1/2 inch across. The top face has longitudinal grooves and is highly pitted on an uneven surface. Edges are uneven and chipped. Corners are rounded. The interior is remarkably devoid of mineral or rock clasts, with only a few cream or gray subrounded shale. The interior is highly porous with tiny holes throughout constituting about 5 percent in volume. Some interiors display darker cores. This brick was made using the sand-molded, soft-mud process. Length unknown, width 3 7/8, height 2 1/4 inches.

McMaster and Barker brick
View of the end of a McMaster & Barker common brick bat.

McMaster and Barker brick
View of the top face of a McMaster & Barker common brick bat.

McMaster and Barker brick
View of the bottom face of a McMaster & Barker common brick bat.

McMaster and Barker brick interior
View of the interior of a McMaster & Barker common brick bat. Note the porous clay body and absence of clasts.


References

Crawford, J.J., Structural Materials, California State Mining Bureau 13th Report of the State Mineralogist, 1896, p. 614.

Slocum, H.A., History of Contra Costa County, W.A. Slocum & Co., San Francisco, 1882.

Copyright 2007 Dan Mosier

Contact Dan Mosier at danmosier@earthlink.net.