Park Brick Yard Company
In 1884, Bradbury D. Day, a carpenter from Maine, and John W. Read,
a British brickmaker, arrived in San Diego to establish a brick
plant. The two partners located a clay deposit suitable for making
brick near 23rd and K streets in San Diego. They leased eight lots
to mine the clay. In the first firing, Day and Read made 125,000
brick. Day used the bricks in his own construction jobs, but some
of the bricks were sold to other building contractors. Read had
planned to fire over one million bricks when operations came to
a halt. The property owner was demanding that Day and Read purchase
the property they were leasing for their brick operation. This was
out of the question for the brickmakers, so they opted to search
for a new clay deposit.
Day and Read found their clay deposit in the entrance to Cabrillo
Canyon, which was at the head of 11th Street, within the southwestern
corner of Balboa Park. Day and Read negotiated with the Board of
Trustees of the City of San Diego to lease the land for a new brickyard.
The Board of Trustees allowed Day and Read to mine clay for bricks
in the park provided that they pay the city 15 cents per one thousand
bricks. Other terms included the monitoring of all grading operations
in the park and the filling with waste rock and crushed rejects in
certain wash outs in the ravine.
On June 1, 1885, Day and Read resumed manufacturing bricks at their
new location. By July, they had fired a kiln of 140,000 bricks in
five days. The new yard was called the Park Brickyard. By October,
another 200,000 brick had been fired. In December, they made over
In 1886, Read purchased controlling interest in the brick company from
Day and ramped up production of bricks into the millions. This made
the Park Brickyard among the largest brick manufacturers in San Diego.
Park Brickyard bricks were used in many large buildings in San Diego,
including the Grand and Brooklyn hotels, and several residences,
including the Villa Montezuma at 1925 K Street and the McCoy House
in Old Town.
No description of the brickmaking process for the Park Brickyard has
been found. But the surviving bricks reveal that the soft-mud process
was used. The raw clay was mixed with water in a pugmill.
The clay was then thrown into wooden molds to form sand-struck bricks. The
bottom of each mold contained a rectangular plate with the letters
"PBY Co" so that each brick would be marked with recessed initials
of the brick company. The bricks were then
laid out to dry in the sun before they were fired in field kilns. Coal
was probably used as the fuel in the kilns.
By late 1888, the building boom in San Diego had slowed and the
demand for bricks had declined with it. The Park Brickyard
as a result was permanently closed. The two brickyard sites of the
Park Brick Yard Company have been completely erased by development
over the years.
Park Brick Yard Brick
Common brick is light orange to orange-red, but each brick is mostly
uniform in color. The surfaces are sand struck. Some of the sand has
a lot of fine mica (muscovite) flakes, which sparkles in the
sunlight. On the surface are minor subrounded white quartz, mostly
less than 1/4 inch across and reddish volcanic porphyry rock up to
1 inch across.The edges are irregular and dull. The corners are dull or
broken. The sides and ends are uneven with irregular lip, up to 1/4
inch thick, around the top edges. The sides contain pits, cracks,
transverse grooves, and longitudinal striations, like fine brush marks.
The top face is heavily pitted. The bottom face contains the recessed
letters "PBY Co" spanning 7 1/2 inches and 1 5/8 inches high. The
interior is a porous clay body with quartz and reddish volcanic rock.
This brick was made using the soft-mud process.
Length 8 1/4 - 8 1/2, width 3 7/8 - 4, height 2 1/4 inches.
View of the marked face of the Park Brick Yard brick. Photo courtesy of George L. Kennedy.
View of the side of the Park Brick Yard brick in the
Horton Grand Hotel, showing various shades and quality.
View of the side of the Park Brick Yard brick, showing the fine brush marks.
Bevil, Alexander D., The Park Brick Yard Company, The Journal of San
Diego History, Winter 1996, v. 42, no. 1.
Copyright © 2007 Dan Mosier
Bevil, Alexander D., written communications, 2010.