California brick
CALIFORNIA BRICKS


Oakland Brick Company

History


In July 1925, the Oakland Brick Company was organized to mine the rich clay deposit found near Foothill Blvd. in Hayward, Alameda County, California. Mortimer G. Kendall, manager of the California Builders Company in Oakland, was the president and manager of the brick company. Over $100,000 had been subscribed. The company office was located at 1636 Franklin Street in Oakland.

Oakland Brick Co. clay mine
Portal of the Oakland Brick Company's clay mine in Hayward. Oakland Tribune, 1925.


The clay deposit was located on a hillside where the company had dug a tunnel for some distance in the clay. The clay was probably weathered kaolinite formed from the Leona rhyolite that underlies the hills. The clay deposit is on 20 acres and rises to a height of 150 feet. The quality of the clay, according to tests, was believed to be suitable for making face brick and firebrick.

On August 30, 1925, the company announced that it had already burned a considerable number of bricks at their Hayward brickyard and in two weeks, it would put on display in Oakland several thousand face and firebrick. They claimed that "their clay equal in good qualities any brick that can be bought on the market in the Eastbay."

Two examples of face brick shown below are believed to have been made at their Hayward yard. They are wire-cut face brick containing the name OAKLAND repressed into the face of the brick. I don't have a sample of their firebrick. No description of this brickyard is available, but from the brick it is evident that the plant was equipped with a crusher, screens, conveyor, pug mill, and wire-cutting extruding machines. The clay was taken from an underground mine, provided with tracks and mine cars for haulage to the plant. The type of kiln used is unknown.

Apparently, the venture failed within a year of opening in 1925 and no further reports came from this company. The company was never listed in business directories. Brick production was probably less than 100,000. There was an indication that the company may have had problems getting the plant online. All evidence of this brickyard has been erased by modern developments.

Oakland Face Brick


The Oakland face brick is white with light red mottling. The sides are smooth and the faces display curved wire-cut marks. The edges are straight and sharp. Minor white quartz up to 1/4-inch across can be seen on the surface. The surface displays minor pits and cracks. On one of the faces is marked the name OAKLAND recessed in block letters that spans 5 1/2 inches and is 3/4 inch in height. The interior is granular compact with about one percent subangular white quartz up to 1/4 inch across. This brick was made using the stiff-mud process, extruded and wire-cut and repressed. Length 8+ (right end broken), width 4, height 2 1/2 inches.

Oakland Brick Co. repressed face brick
View of the marked face of the light red Oakland repressed face brick.


The pale orange Oakland face brick is uniform in color. The sides are smooth and edges are sharp. Curved wire-cut marks are displayed on the surface. One side is impressed with dashes that are probably imprints from a conveyor belt. On one of the faces is marked in recessed block letters with the company name OAKLAND, that spans 5 1/2 inches and is 3/4 inch in height. The interior clay body is a pale orange granular compact with one percent subangular translucent quartz less than 1/16 inch across that sparkles in the light. This brick was made using the stiff-mud process, extruded and wire-cut and repressed. Length 8 3/8, width 4 1/8, height 2 1/2 inches.

Marked face of Oakland Brick Co. repressed face brick
View of the marked face of the pale orange Oakland repressed face brick.

Side of Oakland Brick Co. repressed face brick
View of the side of the pale orange Oakland repressed face brick. Note the dashed conveyor belt imprints.

Face of Oakland Brick Co. repressed face brick
View of the face of the pale orange Oakland repressed face brick. Note the curved wire-cut marks.

Interior of Oakland Brick Co. repressed face brick
View of the interior of the pale orange Oakland repressed face brick.

Interior of Oakland Brick Co. repressed face brick 50x
View of the interior of the Oakland repressed face brick showing
white quartz in a compact clay body, 50x (field of view 1/4 inch).

References

Clay Products of New Syndicate To Be Shown, Oakland Tribune, August 30, 1925.

Oakland Brick Co. Formed, Brick and Clay Record, v. 67, no. 7, 1925, p. 492.

Oakland City Directory, 1925.

Oakland City Directory, 1926.

Copyright 2014 Dan Mosier

Contact Dan Mosier at danmosier@earthlink.net.