California brick
CALIFORNIA BRICKS


Moneta Brick Company

History


In 1925, the Moneta Brick Company purchased 5.6 acres of land for its brickyard. The yard stood on the southwest corner of Normandie Avenue and Artesia Boulevard in Moneta (now Gardena), Los Angeles County, California. In January 1926, the Moneta Brick Company was incorporated in Los Angeles with a capital stock of $20,000, by Allen Grossman, Louis Kahn, and Samuel C. Cohn. M.A. Kurstin was the treasurer. The office was located at 228 West 4th Street in Los Angeles.

The brick plant started up in March 1926. Clay was mined from pits located on the eastern part of the property. No description of the brickyard was found. Bricks were made using a horizontal brick machine. Molding sand was shipped from a property the company owned at Lawndale. Some of the bricks were marked with bold raised letters MONETA inside a rectangular frog on the face of the brick. It is likely that common bricks were consumed locally in the surrounding communities. The company was lasted listed in the Los Angeles City Directory in 1931 and the plant was closed in 1932.

Clay pits later became disposals sites for oil wastes from nearby refineries. During the 1950s, an aircraft manufacturing plant operated at the site. Afterwards, the site became a dumping ground for trash. Today, the pit site is covered by a protective concrete cap to contain the contaminants. Small businesses now operate on the plant site to the west of the pit.


Moneta Brick

Common brick is dark orange red and mostly uniform in color. The surface is coated with fine white subangular quartz sand. The form is good with undulating dull edges and dull corners. Small pits and cracks may be present on the sides. Description for the top face is not available. The marked bottom face contains a deep rectangular beveled sided frog and the company name MONETA in raised block letters. The interior consists of few clasts (1 percent) of subrounded reddish sandstone and subangular white granite, less than 1/16 inch in diameter, in a quartz-rich orange-red sandy clay body. The clay is finely laminated. This brick was made using the soft-mud process. Dimensions are not available. Length ?, width ?, height ? inches.

View of the marked face of a Moneta common brick. Photo courtesy of Ron Rose.
View of the marked face of a Moneta common brick. Photo courtesy of Ron Rose.

View of the interior clay body of a Moneta common brick.
View of the interior clay body of a Moneta
common brick showing white quartz and reddish
sandstone in a finely laminated sandy clay.

Microscopic view of the interior clay body of a Moneta common brick showing white quartz and 
brown iron oxide (50x, field of view 1/4 inch).
Microscopic view of the interior clay body of a
Moneta common brick showing white quartz and tiny
specks of brown iron oxide (50x, field of view 1/4 inch).

References

Architect and Engineer, February 1929, p. 118.

Cully, Joseph, and Lear, Stacey, Gardena Sump Site, Environmental Investigation Resumes, California Department of Toxic Substances Control, Public Involvement Fact Sheet #2, October 2005. https//www.dtsc.ca.gov/SiteCleanup/Projects/upload/Gardena-Sumps_FS_Environmental-Investigation.pdf (accessed April 1, 2015).

Freedner, James, personal communication and brick sample, 2008.

Higgins, Josh, written communications, 2013.

Los Angeles City Directory, 1931.

Moneta Brick Incorporates, Brick and Clay Record, v. 68, no. 3, 1926, p. 222.

New Moneta Brick Plant Opens, Brick and Clay Record, v. 68, no. 7, 1926, p. 564.

Rose, Ron, personal commmunications and brick photograph, 2009.

Stoll, G.C. ledgers, Western Claymachinery Sales, Inc., copied by Josh Higgins, 2012.

Wright, Lauren A., California Foundry Sands, California Journal of Mines, v. 44, no. 1, 1948.


Copyright 2015 Dan Mosier

Contact Dan Mosier at danmosier@earthlink.net.