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Parker Brick Company

History


Parker Brick Co. ad In 1916, John Young Parker purchased the defunct brick plant of the Grant Brick and Tile Company, on Ladera Street at the west end of Monticeto Street in Santa Barbara. Parker was born in Ohio on February 2, 1883, and entered the trade of brickmaking. He became a prominent brickmaker along the California coast. Parker refitted the old Grant plant with modern equipment for making face brick and hollow tile. The plant opened in the spring of 1916. Parker also formed the Contractors' Supply Company, which operated on the corner of Monticeto and Salispudes streets in Santa Barbara, a wholesale building material supply center to sell his clay products in addition to lime, cement, plaster, sand and gravel. In 1917, the Parker Brick Company was incorporated and took over the management of these operations. The company office was in the Central Building in Santa Barbara.

A yellowish, sandy clay was mined by a tractor and scraper from an open cut on a hill west of the plant. This clay was mixed with black adobe from a pit across the road. The clay was mixed in a pug mill and then transferred to the press using the wet process to make red bricks, hollow tile and drain tile. The products were dried in open sheds and then fired in oil-fired field kilns. The plant had a capacity of 25,000 brick per day in 1918, but this later was increased. By 1926, the stiff-mud process was used to make wire-cut bricks. These were end-cut bricks as can be seen in bricks the community center and the Wilson School. The yard employed 12 to 15 workers.

Parker Brick Co. ad From 1916 to 1927, the Parker Brick Company was the major brick supplier in Santa Barbara. By 1925, they had purchased the Coleman Brick Company and the Toro Canyon Brick and Tile Company, and were operating three plants in the Santa Barbara area. Parker bricks and tiles were used in many prominent buildings in the city, including the Santa Barbara County National Bank, the San Marcos office building, St. Francis Hospital, Cottage Hospital, Lincoln School, Wilson School, and many residences.

The disasterous earthquake in June 1925 did not hurt the brick business, but the depression in the 1930s did. In 1928, the Parker and the Toro Canyon plants were leased to the Associated Clay Products Company for a few years. The leasees were Bob Muegenburg, roofing contractor, and Elmer H. Whittaker, rancher. The Toro Canyon plant closed permanently in 1932. In 1936, John Parker reopened the Parker brick plant and it was the only brick manufacturer in Santa Barbara until 1941, when it was permanently closed. Afterwards, Parker worked as a building contractor until his death on June 18, 1949. He left a widow Mrs. Myna Parker. Homes and apartments now cover the site of the Parker brick plant, though there is still evidence of the cut on the hill where clay was once mined.

Parker Brick

Norman Brick

Norman brick is purplish red, mostly uniform in color. Visible subangular to subrounded clasts are about 25 percent white quartz and feldspar, red clay, and black iron spots, up to 1/4 inch across. The faces are smooth with longitudinal grooves. The sides display a velour texture normal to the long edge. The ends display angled wire-cut grooves. Edges are straight and jagged. Corners are sharp when not broken. This brick was made using the extruded, wire-cut, stiff-mud process. Length 11 3/8, width 3 1/8, height 2 inches.

Parker norman brick
Side view of the Parker norman brick in the former Wilson School (now Westside Community Center), Santa Barbara.

Wire-Cut Brick

The wire-cut brick is dark red, mostly uniform in color, with subangular red clay up to 1/4 inch across. The faces are smooth with longitudinal grooves. The sides display a strong velour texture normal to the long edge and a few longitudinal grooves. The ends display transverse wire-cut grooves on a slightly velour to smooth surface, which is fairly pitted. Edges are straight and jagged. Corners are often dull or broken. This brick was made using the extruded, wire-cut, stiff-mud process. This brick was made in 1926 for the Civic Auditorium. Length 8 1/2, width 4, height 2 1/2 inches.

Parker wire-cut brick
Side view of the Parker wire-cut brick in the Santa Barbara Civic Recreation Center Auditorium, 1926.

Source

Brick and Clay Record, v. 48, no. 7, 1916, p. 657.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 48, no. 8, 1916, p. 759.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 48, no. 9, 1916, p. 854.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 50, no. 4, 1917, p. 362.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 52, no. 3, 1917, p. 241.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 52, no. 13, 1918, p. 1161.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 56, no. 13, 1920, p. 1216.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 60, no. 13, 1922, p. 1012.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 66, no. 9, 1925, p. 679.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 67, no. 6, 1925, p. 428.

Dietrich, Waldemar F., The Clay Resources and the Ceramic Industry of California, California State Mining Bureau Bulletin 99, 1928, p. 81-82.

San Barbara City Directories, 1917-1941.

Tucker, W. Burling, Santa Barbara County, California State Mining Bureau Report 21, no. 4, p. 547.

Copyright 2007 Dan Mosier

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