California brick
CALIFORNIA BRICKS


National Brick Company

History


In January 1925, the National Brick Company commenced building a new brick plant at 24th Street and 2nd Avenue (National City Blvd.) in National City, San Diego County, where William L. Mulford, formerly of the Mulford-Burke Brick Company in Los Angeles, had located a clay deposit that was first discovered and worked by Chinese brickmakers 40 years earlier. The company leased 13 acres from landowner S. Christian of National City. Mulford was president of the new company, which was incorporated in June 1925, with a capital stock of $100,000. The company directors were Fred C. Johnson, F.R. Horric, W.L. Mulford, S.L. Jones, and J. Bates. Edward Harrie, Jr., was secretary. The brick plant was completed by March 1925, and 25 workers began manufacturing common brick.

The clay was hauled by scrapers to a hopper, from which it passed to a set of rolls that broke up the clods. Then a belt conveyor took the clay to the pug mill, where the clay was mixed with water. The wet clay was then put into the brick press, where the mold stamped each brick with the company name. After the bricks were properly dried in sheds, they were fired in open oil-fired kilns. The plant was powered by a 50-h.p. electric motor. This yard made 36,000 bricks per day.

Mulford reported that nearly all of the bricks made in the first year had been contracted for. The bricks were sold locally in the San Diego region. In April 1926, W.H. Fraser became president, Charles A. Small was vice-president, Harry M. Folson was secretary-treasurer, and Walter W. Austin was one of the directors.

After only three years of operation, the brickyard closed in 1927 and the company was dissolved. The site of the brickyard is now occupied by modern business buildings.

National Brick


The National common brick is orange-red and mostly uniform in color. The surface has a fine coating of sand of mostly orange-stained, subrounded, translucent quartz, and golden mica may also be present in abundance. The top face is rough with large pits and a transverse strike. The sides are flat and even with minor cracks, pits, and transverse grooves or striations. The edges and corners are dull. The bottom face is marked with the company abbreviations NAT. B. Co in raised block letters that span 5 7/8 inches and is 1 1/8 inches in height, except for the lower case "o" which is 3/4 inch in height. The rectangular frog is 6 1/8 inches long, 2 inches wide, and 1/16 inch deep. The interior consists of an orange-red, porous, sandy clay body containing about 15 percent subangular, gray translucent quartz, less than 1/8 inch across. This brick was made by the soft-mud process. Length 8 1/4, width 3 7/8, height 2 1/4 inches.

marked bottom of National brick

View of the bottom marked face of the National common brick. Donated by George L. Kennedy.

top face of National brick

View of the rough top face of the National common brick.

side of National brick

View of the side of the National common brick.

end of National brick

View of the end of the National common brick.

interior of National brick

View of the interior clay body of the National common brick.

References

An Old Industry Made New, Brick and Clay Record, 1925, v. 66, no. 9, p. 682.

Charter National Brick Co., Brick and Clay Record, 1925, v. 66, no. 11, p. 838.

Kennedy, George L., personal communication and brick donor, 2014.

National Brick Adds Plant, Brick and Clay Record, 1925, v. 66, no. 1, p. 50.

National Brick Co. Will Open, Brick and Clay Record, 1925, v. 66, no. 4, p. 300.

Symons, Henry H., California Mineral Production For 1927, California State Mining Bureau Bulletin 101, 1928, 311 p.

Tucker, W. Burling, San Diego County, California State Mining Bureau Report 21, no. 3, 1925, p. 325-382.

W.H. Fraser Operating National Brick, Brick and Clay Record, 1926, v. 68, no. 8, p. 644.


Copyright 2014 Dan Mosier

Contact Dan Mosier at danmosier@earthlink.net.