California brick
CALIFORNIA BRICKS


The McNear Company

L.P. McNear Brick Company, Inc.

McNear Brick & Block

John A. McNear
John A. McNear. Photo courtesy of John E. McNear.

History

McNear scrapper
About 1897, John Augustus McNear (shown above), a Petaluma grain merchant, reopened the abandoned Fortin brickworks on McNear Point, 4 miles east of San Rafael, Marin County, California. McNear was born in Wiscasset, Maine, in 1832. He had spent two years in Pascagoula, Mississippi, before arriving in San Francisco in 1856. He married Hattie Miller in 1867, and they had three sons, George P., John A., Jr., and Erskine B. McNear. In 1868, he had purchased the land originally known as San Pedro Point, later renamed McNear Point. On May 3, 1898, The McNear Company was incorporated in Petaluma.

The clay deposit was located on the nearby hill, where it was quarried up until about 1989, when it was finally depleted. The clay deposit consisted of a sandy shale and plastic clay. In 1913, a Bueyrus steam shovel loaded the cars, which were horsedrawn in trains to storage bins. Trucks later replaced the horsedrawn train. Equipment in the plant in 1913 included two dry-pan crushers, elevators, screens, a pug mill, a stiff-mud auger extruder, A Ferris wheel wire cutting machine, an off-bearing belt, drying sheds, and two Hoffman continuous kilns, coal and oil fired, one with 20 compartments and one with 5 compartments. Each of the kilns had a capacity of 10 million bricks per year. In 1913, McNear hired 90 employees. In 1999, they had 50 employees producing 15 million bricks per year.

E.B. McNear with wife and sons
E.B. McNear with wife Lucretia and sons E.B., Jr., and
L.P. McNear, c. 1904. Photo courtesy of John E. McNear.

Lawrence P. McNear
In 1907, Erskine B. McNear, a son of John A. McNear, ran the brick company and opened a sales yard at the foot of Second Street in San Francisco, and an office at 704 Montgomery Street. In September 1922, Erskine bought out the interests of his brothers George P. and John A., Jr. E. B. McNear made bricks until 1933, when production had ceased due to the Depression. E. B. was married to Lucretia and their children were Lucretia, Erskine B., Jr., Lawrence P., and Miller P. McNear. E. B. McNear died on October 23, 1956.

In 1946, Lawrence P. McNear (shown right), son of E. B. McNear, reopened the brick plant at McNear Point and sold the first brick in July 1947. He operated under the name of L. P. McNear Brick Company, with the company office at 946 Monadnock Building in San Francisco. Lawrence was married to Imogene and their children were Jane H., Lawrence P., Jr., and John E. McNear. L. P. McNear died on July 16, 1971. On December 16, 1971, the L. P. McNear Brick Company was incorporated by John E. McNear, his wife Pat McNear, his brother Lawrence P. (Jr.) McNear and sister Jane Powers. On September 1, 1991, they bought out The McNear Company and began doing business as McNear Brick & Block.



Lawrence P. McNear, Jr.Lawrence P. McNear, Jr., and John E. McNear
Lawrence P. McNear, Jr., and John E. McNear, 1956.
Photo courtesy of John E. McNear.

Initially, the bricks were shipped by scow schooner, later by barge, to Sacramento, Stockton, and the San Francisco Bay area cities. Today, large semi-trailers transport the bricks to building material yards throughout Northern California. McNear bricks have been used in many prominent buildings, such as the San Rafael City Hall, Library, and Church of Redeemer in San Rafael; Matson Building, Waden Library, Shriner Hospital, and North Point Theater in San Francisco; San Mateo High School and Dunfey Hotel in San Mateo; Bellevue-Staten Apartment, Castlemont High School, and LDS Interstake Center in Oakland, and the Shiva Vishnu Hindu Temple in Livermore. The McNear bricks were not marked with brand names.

Shiva Vishnu Hindu Temple in Livermore
Shiva Vishnu Hindu Temple, Livermore, made of McNear brick.
Photo courtesy of John E. McNear.

John E. McNear, of McNear Brick and Block, wrote the following history on the McNear Company and kindly gave permission to publish it here:

"John A. McNear came to California in 1856, settling in Petaluma. In 1868 he bought 2,500 acres of Point Pedro, east of San Rafael. In 1885 Victor L. Fortin started a brickyard there. John A. McNear took over the Fortin Brick Works in 1897. Ever since, the McNear family has been making brick at the same location, interrupted only by war and depression."

"In September 1922, E. B. McNear bought out his two brothers' (John A., Jr. and George P.) interests in McNear Point and the brick business. Currently (in 2005) involved in the family business is one of John A. McNear's great-grandsons and three of his great-great-grandchildren."

"At first, clay was mined by pick and shovel and moved by horse cart. Bricks were molded by hand in wooden mold boxes. After drying in the sun, they were fired in field kilns fueled with wood. A field kiln is a pile of bricks in a field. Brick were moved around the yard by wheelbarrows and little rail cars. Historically, every large town without water frontage had its own brickyard, because land transportation was too expensive. Brick delivery was done by scow schooner and, later, by barge. That is why Colusa and Modesto were founded and became county seats; they are about as far up the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers as could reliably be reached by scow schooner. That is also why McNear Brickyard is located where it is, on the water."

Barges at the McNear brickyard
Barges were used to ship bricks from the McNear brickyard, c. 1903.
Photo courtesy of John E. McNear.

"Mining changed to a steam shovel and a dragline and the material was hauled in gondola cars on an electric train. Brick making changed from mold boxes to an extrusion process, using a Ferris wheel brick cutter. After making, the brick were put into dry sheds, where they stayed from two weeks to two months, depending on the weather. Extra brick were dried in the summer and hand stacked in storage for burning in the winter. There were wooden doors that, when open, let in sunlight and, when closed, kept out the rain. More than once, I had to get up in the middle of the night and close the sheds in my pajamas."

Hoffman kilns at the McNear brickyard
View of the new Hoffman kilns at the McNear brickyard, c. 1904.
Photo courtesy of John E. McNear.

"Around 1902 our office, boarding house, cookhouse, and the first of two Hoffman kilns were built; the second kiln was built in 1904. A Hoffman kiln is a tunnel, looped like a race track. It is fired with coal every 45 minutes, burning about three tons a day. Sometimes the same fire would burn for several years. The fire advanced about six rows of firing holes a day. Since there are 88 rows, it took about two weeks to make a circuit. John E. McNear and Jean Powers each lit a fire, as did Scott McNear. It is a family tradition to have members of the family light kiln fires. The fire's progress was controlled by adding coal to the front of the fire and not fueling the rear and by opening dampers over flues to the smokestack in front and closing them behind. Advance was determined with a depth gage; as the brick fired, they shrank or settled about 3 1/2 inches. A paper dam was put in by the setters as they were setting green brick in the kiln. That prevented back drafting; all the combustion air had to pass by the fired brick. That cooled them and warmed the air-very efficient. The paper dams would burn when the fire approached."

"Each wheeler had to remove 7,500 bricks from the kiln, by loading 100 per barrow load, and wheeling them outside, where he had to stack them. Each of the four wheelers lifted over 40 tons per day. Their pay back then was $3.20 a day. Using these wheelbarrows was tricky. To keep the narrow steel wheels from sinking into the dirt, the wheels had to be kept on narrow, portable, steel tracks. When loading them, 50 bricks on each side, the sides had to be kept in balance, off no more than 10 bricks, or the whole load would tip over. The wheelers didn't wear store bought gloves; they made pads out of inner tubes. Later, the wheelbarrows got pneumatic rubber tires and then were replaced with cars and portable trackage. The kiln held about a half million bricks and 150,000 were set and wheeled every week. A space of two or three doors, opposite from the fire, was open for the two crews to work."

kiln cart at McNear brickyard
Wheelers with brick cart inside the kiln, McNear brickyard, c. 1920.
Photo courtesy of John E. McNear.

"Until the Depression, everyone who worked here lived here. There were houses for families, a boarding house, and bedroom huts for bachelors, who took their meals in the Cookhouse."

"In 1931, The McNear Company, a corporation owned by E. B. McNear, his four children, and his son-in-law, became licensee for Haydite. This is a lightweight aggregate made by suddenly heating shale to about 2,200 degrees. It bloats like rice crispies. After cooling, it is crushed to size. It was invented by Mr. Stephen Hayde, in Texas. Texas has very little rock, so aggregate for road base and concrete has to be hauled great distances. An old rotary cement kiln was hauled from Cement Hill, near Fairfield, and used to make Haydite. The Golden Gate Bridge was paved with lightweight concrete made with Haydite. During World War II floating drydocks were made with Haydite."

"McNear Brickyard stopped production of bricks in 1932 because E. B. McNear refused to cut the price below production cost, like the competition did. Most of them went bankrupt during the Depression. The brickyard was covered ten feet deep with millions of bricks. L. P. McNear opened McNears Beach as a resort, rented fishing boats, and expanded his dynamite business. Miller McNear ran the dairy and the Haydite aggregate plant. Bill Thomas stayed on as sales manager."

"In 1942, Frank Steigerwalt leased some property and started making lightweight concrete blocks, using Haydite for aggregate. The McNear Company bought him out in 1953. Around 1945, the quarry was leased to Basalt Rock Co."

"Brick production, by L. P. McNear, resumed in 1946 and mining changed again to diesel shovel to front end loader, with haulage by truck. The clay and shale were crushed, at first with a dry pan, and then helped with a hammermill. Delivery was changed from barges to trucks."

workers at the McNear brickyard
"The first fork lift truck was bought in July of 1949; this revolutionized handling of brick in the yard. Before then, green brick had to be jacked up and down from cars in the dry sheds and wheeled brick had to be handled twice, unless there were enough empty cars to hold a day's wheeling. Brick had to be hand stacked onto flat bed trucks or shot putted into dump trucks. The loader handled five brick at a time; when he loaded twenty hands, he threw a brick on the ground. That kept track of how many brick had been loaded-100 for each brick on the ground."

"When the brickyard restarted, there was not enough dry shed space to dry brick for both Hoffman kilns. With fork lifts it was possible to put green brick in the open yard. Once, it rained in September and we lost several hundred thousand brick."

"E. B. McNear sold his interest in The McNear Company to his children and his son-in-law in the Spring of 1950. A Steele Model 40 pug mill and extruder were installed in 1953. This extruder used oil for lubrication instead of steam. The Ferris wheel cutter had been replaced previously by a side cutter."

"In the Spring of 1955, The McNear Company unincorporated (becoming a partnership called The McNear Co.) and sold 2,200 acres (everything but the brickyard, quarry and brickyard marsh) to Stegge Development Co."

"In the mid 1950's it became hard to sell Hoffman kiln brick because people wanted a uniform brick color and Hoffman brick were variegated. The first of three new field kilns was built in the spring of 1956. It was lit June 22nd by Allen Powers and Jeff McNear. This one had three permanent walls; only the end had to be continually rebuilt. Instead of wood, it used diesel oil - some 45,000 gallons per burn. In 1961 natural gas arrived; 6,800,000 cubic feet per burn. The extra cost of fuel was compensated by labor saving; setting and wheeling could be done by fork lift, except for the flue arches. The field kilns originally held about a half million bricks, but in 1963 they were lengthened to hold 750,000. It took a week to set a field kiln, eleven days to fire it, four or five days to cool, and a week to wheel. A couple of courses of fired brick were spread on the top to keep some of the heat inside. Vents were open for the first day or so, while the kiln was water smoking, that is, boiling off any moisture in the green brick. This was a dangerous time in the winter. If it started to rain, the green brick near the top would melt and fuse together; if a tarp were thrown over, the steam trapped inside would do the same. When brick to were in short supply, we would try to tear down the end wall while the kiln was still hot. Incandescent brick look brown when exposed to cool air; as they cool they turn red."

Hoffman kiln door at McNear brickyard
View of the Hoffman Kiln #1 door at the McNear brickyard.
Photo courtesy of John E. McNear.

Hoffman kiln flue at McNear brickyard
View of the Hoffman Kiln flue at the McNear brickyard.
Photo courtesy of John E. McNear.

Hoffman kiln damper handle and lever at McNear brickyard
View of the damper handle and lever on top of the Hoffman Kiln #1
at the McNear brickyard, 2005. Photo courtesy of John E. McNear.

"In 1959, we stopped selling to contractors and the public and sold to building material dealers only. In 1959 or 1960, we bought the Trade Mark, Copyright, and tumbler for Green Hills brick from Jules Gindraux and became the first brickyard to tumble bricks. In August 1959, Field Kiln #2 was lit with diesel oil. We began selling Rustic brick in 1961, which we copied from Port Costa Brick Works after they copied our Green Hills brick. In March 1961, Field Kiln #3 was lit and Hoffman Kiln #1 was shut down."

McNear brick stacks
"In 1962, The McNear Co. began selling Slumplite block, the first in Northern California. In 1963, the three field kilns were lengthened so that each could hold 750,000 brick instead of 500,000. Brick for sale were changed from wooden pallets to steel strapped cubes in 1965. The dry pan and hammermill were retired in 1968 and were replaced with a new crushing and screening plant."

"In December 1971, The McNear Co. sold the 330 acres of land under the brickyard and quarry to Dillingham Construction Co., the parent of Basalt Rock Co. L. P. McNear Brick Co., Inc. (a corporation formed by John, Pat, and L. P. McNear, Jr., and Jane Powers), bought the brick and powder businesses from the estate of L. P. McNear April 1, 1972. At the same time, The McNear Co., Inc. (a corporation formed by Brad McNear and Bob Thomas), bought the Haydite block business from The McNear Co. The McNear Co., Inc., stopped making Haydite aggregate in May of 1972 because the plant was obsolete and because three (two new) patent breaking competitors oversupplied the market. They crushed to size before roasting instead of after as in Hayde's patent."

"In the mid 1970's, the price of gas skyrocketed; the bill was over $2000 a day. The field kilns had to be abandoned. A Ferro tunnel kiln was lit by Dan McNear February 2, 1977. Unlike a field kiln, this is a continuous process like a Hoffman kiln, and likewise uses one third as much fuel. Instead of moving a coal fire through stationary brick, a tunnel kiln moves brick on refractory decked railroad cars through a gas fire. Waste heat is collected at the end and sent to a dryer. This changed the dry sheds to simply green brick storage. The doors could be left closed always. This kiln is unusual because it is a metal shell insulated with refractory fiber. Most tunnel kilns are built out of brick, like a Hoffman kiln. When there is a wreck in such a kiln, it takes a week to cool the kiln and fix it. A fiber lined kiln can be fixed in one day. The tunnel kiln was lengthened 50% in early 1981 and now fires about 325,000 brick a week. The abandoned Hoffman kilns are not used much anymore, storage of stuff we don't use and bats roost in the chimneys."

Employees at McNear brickyard
Employees at the McNear brick plant, c. 1920. Photo courtesy of John E. McNear.

"Because of rising labor costs, a hacking machine was installed at the brick machine in March of 1985. This used a crew of three instead of eight men hacking bricks by hand. Later, Jeff McNear improved it so only so one man is needed. Also, in 1985, Scott McNear developed a glazed brick to match the existing brick on the Pacific Telephone Building in San Francisco, which were needed for repairs. He used a toothbrush to spatter the dark blue glaze spots."

"Furthermore, in 1985, the pit had become so seriously depleted that clay had to be imported. Local contractors with waste dirt from house pads, trenches, swimming pools, etc., had been hauling it to the county dump north of Novato, and paying to get rid of it. We spread word around that, if it weren't rocks, concrete rubble, etc., they could bring it here for free. This made the brickyard Marin County's largest recycler - some 40,000 tons a year. But we have to screen out the rocks and blend it for uniformity."

"In February 1986, Dillingham Construction Co. sold the land and the quarry to Dutra Construction Co. In 1990, a Steele Model 90 brick machine was installed, replacing the Model 40, in use since 1953, along with four new bunkers to replace the wooden bunker in use since 1903."

Employees at McNear brickyard
Employees at the McNear brick plant, c. 1920. Photo courtesy of John E. McNear.

"L. P. McNear Brick Co., Inc., bought the equipment, inventory, and lease of The McNear Co., Inc., on September 1, 1991, and started doing business as McNear Brick & Block. In March 1993, we scrapped the four Haydite kilns, clearing the area for storage of crushed Haydite block rubble, which we can recycle. We stopped selling powder in 1993, mainly because the industry was changing from 50# boxes and bags to bulk mix trucks and our business volume wouldn't pay for one. Previously, a similar change of chicken feed from sacks to bulk caused the demise of the G. P. McNear Co., in Petaluma."

McNear ad


"In May 1996, we began selling Hollandstone, a brick shaped concrete block. They got their name from the results of World War II. After the war, most of Europe's housing and brickyards were destroyed. Masonry had to be made quickly. Holland has lots of sand so plants sprang up to make brick shaped concrete blocks."

"In December 1999, we bought an Omag machine for making concrete pavers, such as Tango, Hollandstone, and Cobblestone. In Octber 2003, we stopped making any concrete masonry units."

Overhoff brickworkOverhoff brickworkOverhoff brickwork

"Over the years we have made some unusual bricks. We gave a sculptor, Jacques Overhoff, some wet clay slugs and he made this carving (see above). He also brought over some children living near the library job at Third and Revere Streets in San Francisco. They were each given a green brick on which to scribble whatever they wanted. They fiercely defended that library from all grafitti and vandalism."

"And that is a history of one of California's oldest brickyards."

John E. McNear also provided the following products that his company made along with the beginning and ending dates for each:

Haydite, 1931 to May 1972, a lightweight aggregate.
Jumbo brick, 1957 to present.
Green Hills brick, 1959 or 1960 to present.
Rustic brick, 1961 to present.
Slumplite block, 1962 to September 2000.
Peacock brick, September 1981 to present, flashed in the tunnel kiln.
Sepia brick, November 1981 to present, with manganese dioxide.
Repressed Paver brick, April 1982 to present, using Richmond Brick Company's old repress machine.
Versa-Lok©, January 1992 to March 2002, a split-face concrete block used to build retaining walls without mortar. The batter is set with plastic pins.
Bullnose brick, September 1992 to present.
Rumford fireplace units, February 1993 to present.
Superior Clay chimney tops and flue lining, February 1993 to present.
Tudor brick, April 1993 to present, which are tumbled immediately after being made.
Tango block, July 1994 to October 2003, a mortarless concrete paver.
Handy Stone II©, April 1995 to November 1999, a smaller version of Versa-Lok©.
Hollandstone, May 1996 to October 2003, brick-shaped border block for Tangos.
Cobblestone block, June 1997 to October 2003.
Olympus (name changed to Palladian) brick, September 1997 to December 2000, an oversize brick with a better Fibonaci ratio than Jumbo brick.
HandyScape©, May 1998 to October 2003, a mortarless retaining wall block that has a lip on the bottom rear to control the batter.
Tumbled Cobblestone block, March 1999 to October 2003.
Marathon brick, May 1999 to September 2002, an oversized brick for paving.
Tumbled Versa-Lok block, March 2001 to October 2003.
One square-foot sized Versa-Lok block, August 2004 to present.
Thin veneer brick, June 2006 to present.

McNear brickyard
View of the McNear brick plant. Photo by Dan Mosier, 2002.


McNear Brick

Common Brick

Pre-1932 common brick are in shades of orange, orange-red, red-buff, with visible white clasts on the surface. The surface is smooth, some with coarse grainy texture and minor crazing. Yellow-brown flashing and stack indentations are visible on some sides. Form is irregular with dull or broken edges and corners. Sides show faint transverse groove marks. No lip present. Face has velour texture that trends in the longitudinal direction with straight wire cut grooves that trend in the transverse direction. Clasts constitute up to 20 percent of mostly subangular to subrounded white quartz and granite, some of which are iron-stained, and lesser angular white feldspar, red, yellow, and green chert, red shale, and round brown iron spots, less than 1/4 inch across. This brick was made by the extruded, stiff-mud process, wire-cut faces, fired in the Hoffman kiln. Length 7 7/8 - 8 3/8, width 3 3/4 - 4, height 2 3/8 - 2 3/4 inches.

McNear red-buff brick
McNear red-buff common brick in the wall of the former San Mateo High School, 1926.


McNear red-buff brick side
View of the side of the McNear red-buff common brick with flashing.


McNear red-buff brick face
View of the wire-cut face of the McNear red-buff common brick.


McNear variegated common brick at Bellevue-Staten Apartments in Oakland
View of the side of the McNear variegated common brick in the Bellevue-Staten Apartments, Oakland, 1929.


Post-1977 red common smooth brick has a smooth, nearly flawless surface of uniform color. Stack indentations are present on some sides. The form is straight and even. The long edges are sharp, short edges are rounded, corners are sharp. Faces display curved wire-cut marks and tiny pits. Clasts constitute about 3 percent of subangular white quartz, cream feldspar, and black iron, less than 1/16 inch across. This brick was made by the extruded, stiff-mud process, wire-cut faces, fired in the tunnel kiln. Length 8 1/16, width 3 3/4, height 2 1/2 inches.

McNear smooth common brick side
View of the side of the McNear red smooth common brick made in 2002.


McNear smooth common brick face
View of the wire-cut face of the McNear red smooth common brick made in 2002.


Post-1981 Peacock common brick has a smooth surface with an irradiant tan color and flash colors of yellow, red, and black on the sides. Stack indentations are present on the sides of some. The faces display curved wire-cut marks and tiny pits. The form is straight with sharp long edges, rounded short edges, and sharp corners. Clasts constitute about 3 percent of subangular white quartz, cream feldspar, and black iron, less than 1/16 inch across. Made by the extruded, stiff-mud process, wire-cut faces, fired in the tunnel kiln. Length 8 1/16, width 3 3/4, height 2 1/2 inches.

McNear peacock common brick side
View of the side of the McNear Peacock common brick made in 2002.


McNear peacock common brick face
View of the wire-cut face of the McNear Peacock common brick made in 2002.


The Santa Cruz common brick are in various shades of brown with a dimpled surface. Flash color of dark brown is present on some sides. The dimples are in a variety of shapes and sizes on the sides of the brick. Some may display stack indentations on the sides. The form is straight with sharp long edges, rounded short edges, and sharp corners. Faces display curved wire-cut marks. Clasts contitute 5 percent of subangular white quartz, cream feldspar, and granitic rocks, less than 3/16 inch across. Made by the extruded, stiff-mud process, wire-cut faces, and fired in the tunnel kiln. Length 8 1/16, width 3 3/4, height 2 1/2 inches.

McNear Santa Cruz common brick side
View of the side of the McNear Santa Cruz common brick made in 2002.


McNear Santa Cruz common brick face
View of the wire-cut face of the McNear Santa Cruz common brick made in 2002.


The Field Kiln Clinker brick have variegated shades of yellow, orange, red, purple, brown, and black colors. The surface is smooth and often crackled. The form is straight is sharp long edges, rounded short edges, and sharp corners. The faces display curved wire-cut marks. The clasts constitute up to 5 percent white subangular quartz, cream feldspar, and black iron blisters less than 3/8 inch across. Made by the extruded, stiff-mud process, wire-cut faces, and fired in the field kiln, 1956-1976. Length 8 1/4, width 4, height 2 3/8 inches.

McNear Field Kiln Clinker brick side
View of the side of the McNear Field Kiln Clinker brick in the wall of the Anna Waden Library, San Francisco, 1969.


The Hacienda brick are in shades of light brown colors, some with flashing on the sides. The surface is gritty. The form is irregular, due to tumbling prior to firing, resulting in gouges and smashed edges and corners. The edges and corners are dull. The faces display curved wire-cut marks. Clasts constitute 5 percent of subangular white quartz and cream feldspar, less than 1/16 inch across, and black beads of iron, some blistered with holes. Made by the extruded, stiff-mud process, wire-cut faces, tumbled, and fired in the tunnel kiln. Length 8, width 3 3/4, height 2 1/2 inches.

McNear Hacienda common brick side
View of the side of the McNear Hacienda brick made in 2002.


McNear Hacienda common brick face
View of the wire-cut face of the McNear Hacienda brick made in 2002.


The Green Hills brick are orange-red with splotches of white mortar. The surface is smooth and crackled. The form is straight, with sharp to broken long edges, rounded short edges, and dull corners, due to tumbling after firing. The faces display curved wire-cut marks. Clasts constitute 5 percent of subangular white quartz and cream feldspar, less than 1/16 inch across. Made by the extruded, stiff-mud process, wire-cut faces, fired in the field kiln 1960-1977, tunnel kiln since 1977. Length 8 1/4, width 3 7/8, height 2 3/8 inches.

McNear Green Hills brick side
View of the side of the McNear Green Hills brick made in 2002.


McNear Green Hills brick face
View of the wire-cut face of the McNear Green Hills brick made in 2002.


Red smooth cored common brick is uniform in color and has a smooth surface. Stack indentations are present on some sides. Form is straight with sharp long edges, rounded short edges, and sharp corners. Faces display curved wire-cut marks and three large perforations 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Clasts constitute 5 percent of subangular white quartz and cream feldspar, less than 1/16 inch across. Made by the extruded, stiff-mud process, wire-cut faces and perforated, and fired in the tunnel kiln. Length 8, width 3 3/4, height 2 1/4 inches.

McNear red smooth cored brick side
View of the side of the McNear red smooth cored brick.


McNear red smooth cored brick face
View of the wire-cut face of the McNear red smooth cored brick.


Face Brick

Pre-1932 Alameda face brick is buff to white with a smooth surface that has crackles. The form is straight with sharp edges and corners. Brown iron spots less than 1/16 inch across constitute up to 10 percent. Made by the extruded, stiff-mud process in 1904. Length 8 1/4, width 4, height 2 1/4 inches.

McNear Alameda face brick side
View of the sides of the McNear Alameda face brick in the Carnegie Library, Petaluma, 1904.

Paver Brick

The Red Repressed paver brick is red with a smooth surface that has crackles and stack indentations. The form is straight with camphored long edges, rounded short edges, and rounded corners. Faces have curved wire-cut marks. Clasts constitutes 3 percent of subangular white quartz, cream feldspar, and blistered black iron spots, less than 1/16 inch across. Made by the extruded, stiff-mud process, wire-cut faces, repressed, and fired in the tunnel kiln. Length 8 3/16, width 4, height 2 3/8 inches.

McNear red repressed paver brick side
View of the side of the McNear red repressed paver brick made in 2002.


McNear red repressed paver brick face
View of the wire-cut face of the McNear red repressed paver brick made in 2002.


References

Aubury, Lewis E., The Structural and Industrial Materials of California, California State Mining Bureau Bulletin 38, 1906.

Barron, Karl, The Brickyard, Marin This Month, April 1961, p. 17.

Bradley, W.W., Mines and Mineral Resources of Portions of California, Part 2: The Counties of Colusa, Glenn, Lake, Marin, Napa, Solano, Sonoma, Yolo, California State Mining Bureau 14th Report of the State Mineralogist, for the Biennial Period 1913-1914, 1916, p. 244-247.

California Brick and Tile Association, San Francisco, 1949.

California Brick and Tile Association, San Francisco, 1956.

Domino, Donna, Marin's Commerce: Building On A Past, Marin Independent Journal, May 14, 1999, p. 14.

Doughty, Audrey E., At This San Francisco Library They 'Threw the Book Away', Masonry Industry, June 1970, p. 10-11.

Federal Census Records, 1880.

Federal Census Records, 1900.

Federal Census Records, 1910.

Federal Census Records, 1920.

Federal Census Records, 1930.

Masonry Industry, Exposed Brick Library, February 1968, p. 18.

McNear Brick & Block, Thin Brick, brochure.

McNear, Dan, written communication, 2003.

McNear, John E., written and personal communications, 2010.

San Francisco City Directories, 1897-1961.

Copyright © 2010 Dan Mosier

Contact Dan Mosier at danmosier@earthlink.net.