California brick
CALIFORNIA BRICKS


Mulford-Burke Brick Company

Mulford Vitrified Brick Company

History


On November 30, 1909, the Mulford-Burke Brick Company was organized with a capital stock of $100,000, by James K. Burke, E. A. Emmons, David L. Burke, H. H. Grossmayer, S. T. Burke, and W. A. Burke. J. K. Burke was president, D. L. Burke was vice-president, E. A. Emmons was secretary, and H. H. Grossmayer was treasurer. The company office was located at 507-508 Stimson Building, 458 South Spring Street in Los Angeles.

William L. Mulford, born in Illinois in 1863, was an experienced brickmaker and plant superintendent. He had previously established the Los Angeles Paving Brick Company on Whittier Boulevard to the north. In 1909, he left the former company to start a new vitrified brickyard with the Burkes.

A vitrifying clay deposit was discovered on 14 acres of land just west of Rio Hondo along the south side of the Sante Fe railroad at Montebello. The clay was described as being of volcanic origin and very fine for making dense vitrified brick. Deposits for making vitrified brick are quite rare in California. This clay deposit had an average depth of 54 feet.

The plant had a capacity of 18,000 brick per day. The clay was conveyed from the pit to the plant and converted into bricks by machinery. The bricks were extruded and wire-cut into thick bricks. Each brick was put in the repress machine to imprint the name and lugs on the face. The name "MULFORD BURKE BRICK Co" is recessed and is accompanied by arrowhead-shaped lugs in the upper right and lower left corners. The arrowhead lugs were trademarks for Mulford bricks.

The bricks were dried in seven drying rooms, each being 130 feet long and constructed of concrete. The bricks were fired to a temperature of 2,200 degrees F in six kilns. The fired paving bricks were so hard and dense that they weighed 9.25 pounds each. Bricks were loaded from the kilns to cars with a Matthews gravity brick conveyor.

In November 1911, Mulford took over the interests of his partners and changed the name of the company to the Mulford Vitrified Brick Company. William Mulford was president and general manager, Thomas J. Darmody was vice-president, Harry E. Mulford was secretary, and Alice A. Mulford was treasurer. Harry H. Mulford, J. H. Furlow, and R. T. Thomas were board officers. The company office was located at 129 West Third Street and, in 1912, at 253 South Broadway in Los Angeles.

When the Mulford-Burke yard first opened, there was some demand for paving brick in downtown Los Angeles for use in paving gutters, streets, and street railroad lines. However, paving brick was soon replaced by asphalt, which became the paving material of choice. Mulford turned to manufacturing sand-molded building brick sporting the name MULFORD in bold raised letters inside a rectangular frog. This plant was closed in 1916.

In 1916, William Mulford became the plant superintendent for the Metallic Brick Company in Los Angeles. That year also the Mulford plant was leased to the Montebello Brick Company. In 1920, the Simons Brick Company purchased the Montebello plant, tore down the old buildings, rebuilt new ones, and overhauled the machinery for the production of hollow tile. After working at several other brickyards in the Los Angeles area, William Mulford died in Los Angeles on February 8, 1959.

Mulford Brick

Vitrified Paving Brick

Mulford-Burke vitrified paving brick is dark red, uniform in color. It has a smooth surface from being extruded and displays curved wire cut grooves with a slight velour texture on its faces. The sides and ends have longitudinal cracks, and stack indentations on the sides. The edges are rounded with press marks. On the surface and in the interior are minor white subrounded quartz and feldspar up to 1/4 inch across. The brand name on the bottom face is on three lines as recessed block letters 11/16 inch high, except for the little "o", which is 1/2 inch high. The first line contains MULFORD, which spans 5 inches. On the second line is BURKE, which spans 3 1/2 inches. On the third line is BRICK Co, which spans 5 inches. In the upper right and lower left corners are inverted raised arrowheads, 1 3/8 inches high and 1 1/4 inches wide. The brick is heavy, weighing 9 pounds. This brick was made from 1910 to 1911 using the extruded, stiff-mud process, repressed. Length 8 3/4, width 4 1/4, height 3 3/8 inches.

Bottom face of the Mulford-Burke vitrified paver
Bottom face of the Mulford-Burke vitrified paving brick showing the brand
name with a pair of arrowheads. Donated by Roy N. Anaclerio, Jr.

Side of the Mulford-Burke vitrified paver
Side of the Mulford-Burke vitrified paving brick. Donated by Roy N. Anaclerio, Jr.

Top face of the Mulford-Burke vitrified paver
Top face of the Mulford-Burke vitrified paving brick. Donated by Roy N. Anaclerio, Jr.

End of the Mulford-Burke vitrified paver
End of the Mulford-Burke vitrified paving brick.

Interior of the Mulford-Burke vitrified paver
Interior of the Mulford-Burke vitrified paving brick.

The Mulford Vitrified Brick Company paving brick has the same description given above except for the markings on the face. The name of the company is impressed in block-style recessed letters between two arrowhead-shaped lugs. On the first line is MULFORD. On the second line is VITRIFIED in slightly smaller letters. On the third line is BRICK CO. The arrowheads are raised and inverted. No dimensions are available for this brick. This brick was made in the period of from 1911 to 1916.

Bottom face of the Mulford Vitrified Brick Co. paving brick
Bottom face of the Mulford-Burke vitrified paving brick showing the
brand name with a pair of arrowheads. Photo courtesy of Ron Rose.

Common Brick


Common brick is dark red and uniform in color. It is a sand molded brick with some mica flakes in the sand coating. The edges are irregular and the corners rounded. Sides display stack indentations and minor white subrounded quartz and feldspar and red clay lumps up to 1/4 inch across. Top face is pitted with longitudinal strike marks, with no indication of a lip. Bottom face has a beveled rectangular frog 1/4 inch deep, which measures 6 1/2 inches long and 1 7/8 inches high. In the center of the frog is the MULFORD brand name in raised block letters, which span 5 3/4 inches and is 1 inch high. The brand name is difficult to see. This brick was made using the sand molded, soft-mud process. Length 8 3/4, width 3 7/8, height 2 3/8 inches.

Mulford common brick
Bottom face of the Mulford common brick with the brand name in a deep frog. Donated by David Garcia.


Mulford common brick
Top face of the Mulford common brick with its pitted surface.


Mulford common brick
Side view of the Mulford common brick.


Mulford common brick
End view of the Mulford commmon brick.


References

Big Brick Company Locates New Plant, Los Angeles Herald, August 14, 1910.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 40, no. 8, 1912, p. 380.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 42, no. 11, 1913, p. 987.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 49, no. 12, 1916, p. 1110.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 56, no. 8, 1920, p. 747.

Los Angeles City Directories, 1911-1916.

New Incorporations, Los Angeles Herald, December 1, 1909.

Personal Notes and Business Factors, Southwest Contractor, v. 16, 1915, p. 10.

Copyright 2006 Dan Mosier

Contact Dan Mosier at danmosier@earthlink.net.