California brick
CALIFORNIA BRICKS


Petersen-Kartschoke Brick Company

Petersen Brick Company

History

Peterson-Kartschoke Brick Co. ad
From Architect and Engineer, 1914.


Theodore W. Petersen (also spelled Peterson), born about 1835 in Holstein, Germany, came to California in 1860. He arrived in San Jose in 1865 and became proprietor of the Atlantic House hotel. In 1872, he purchased the brickyard at Keyes and South Third streets in San Jose, from Henry Bradley, who had operated the brickyard there since 1868. In 1872, Petersen began making common brick from a clay pit on Third Street. He purchased 10 acres of clay property on the east side of Coyote Creek on Roberts Street one mile to the east of the yard. This property eventually expanded to 25 acres of clay pits. Petersen and Company also opened a branch yard in Mountain View. In 1884, he joined partnership with Edward Kartschoke and the firm was known as Petersen-Kartschoke.

Petersen-Kartschoke Brick Co. brickyard
View of the Petersen-Kartschoke brickyard in San Jose. From Craft, 1909.


The clay deposit was a sandy clay 18 to 25 feet thick. The clay was mined by steam shovel and hauled by auto trucks to the plant. Mule-hauled wagons were used in the early operations. The clay was shoveled into a hopper and conveyed on a belt to a set of rolls that crushed the lumps, and fed directly to a pug mill for tempering and then to a Monarch soft-mud machine. In 1909, the plant had two Monarch soft-mud machines (40,000 brick per day capacity), one Boyd semi-dry press (20,000 brick per day), and a small stiff-mud machine (15,000 to 20,000 brick per day). The plant was equipped with a large steam heated drying room containing a Potts steam drier (40,000 brick per day capacity). Open air drying was done using a pallet-rack system in the open yard.

View of the machine room at the Petersen-Kartschoke brickyard
View of the machine room at the Petersen-Kartschoke brickyard in San Jose. From Craft, 1909.


Two Hoffman continuous kilns, of 41,000 capacity each, were used to fire the brick, with wood later replaced by coal screenings as fuel. Electric power was used to operate the presses. The power was supplied by two 100-h.p. boilers, one 100-h.p. engine, and two electric motors of 44 h.p. each. The electric motors powered the yard machines, dry press, and stiff-mud machines.

View of the top of the Hoffman kiln at the Petersen-Kartschoke brickyard
View of the top of the Hoffman kiln at the Petersen-Kartschoke brickyard in San Jose. From Craft, 1909.


View of the open-air drying yard at the Petersen-Kartschoke brickyard
View of the open-air drying yard at the Petersen-Kartschoke brickyard in San Jose. From Craft, 1909.


Common, stock, and pressed brick and later floor tile were the products manufactured here. In 1883, Petersen began making pressed brick. This brick won first prize at the World's Exposition in New Orleans in 1885-1886. The Builders' Association of California certified that the pressed brick was the best made on the Pacific Coast. Some of the buildings made of this brick included the Pioneer Building, Odd Fellows Hall, Union Club House, and Catholic Church in San Francisco, and the front of the San Jose City Hall. Pressed brick was made of a very fine finish, with smoother surface and sharper corners than the stock brick. It generally had a darker hue, but were made in all shades of color. The output of pressed brick was 600,000 a year in 1888. Stock brick was made with a sandy face and was very uniform in color. It was used mainly in factories, warehouses, and rear walls of business blocks. Petersen was not known to mark his bricks, except the ones that were sent to the San Francisco City Hall were stamped "CH." Total output of all bricks averaged about 7 million per year, and achieved as much as 12 million per year.

The brickyard employed 40 to 70 men during nine months of the year. Most of the laborers were Chinese. In 1890, Henry Stammer, a German brickmaker, became the foreman of the main yard. Stammer later worked for the Garden City Pottery Company.

In 1893, the Petersen Brick Company was incorporated with a capital stock of $100,000. The main office was located at 314 Montgomery Street in San Francisco. The directors were Edward Kartschoke, Theodore W. Petersen, G. Kartschoke, J. F. Holling, and F. C. Hornung.

In 1905, Petersen-Kartschoke Brick Company incorporated with $150,000 to manufacture brick, terra cotta, sewer pipe, and tile. The directors were Gustave Kartschoke, M.S. Blanchard and William H. Young of San Francisco, Walter S. Farrar and S.W. Smith of Alameda. From 1905 to as late as 1920, this company made red common brick with "PKBCo" set in a deep rectangular frog. Pressed brick contained the name "PK" set in a deep rounded rectangular frog. Sometime between 1920 to 1925, a wire-cut extruder was added to make wire-cut red flash bricks, seen in the walls of the office building. The wire-cut bricks were not marked.

Petersen-Kartschoke ceased manufacturing bricks in 1925. In 1929, Chandler and Charles Gladding purchased the brickyard and started the Gladding Brothers Clay Products Company, which converted the plant into manufacturing clay pipes and flues.

Petersen-Kartschoke Brick Co. brickyard
View of the Petersen-Kartschoke brickyard in San Jose. From Bradley, 1920.


Petersen-Kartschoke brick can still be seen in many of the older homes in the San Jose residential neighborhoods. The yard office and showroom at Keyes and Third streets, San Jose, displays the variety of bricks made by this firm. The colorful bricks are easy to spot. Petersen died on March 10, 1902, in San Francisco.

Peterson-Kartschoke Brick Co. office
Petersen-Kartschoke office at Keyes and Third streets, San Jose.
Various shades of brick are displayed on the wall of this showroom,
along with many of their other clay products.


Petersen-Kartschoke Brick

Wire-Cut Repressed Brick

Wire-cut repressed brick is red to reddish brown, with tiny white clasts visible on the surface. Typically with flash of yellow and pink shades. Smooth compact surface texture with minor crazing and cracks. Straight sharp edges except rounded on the short edges. Corners are sharp. Some display fine criss-cross impressions or short dashes from the conveyor belt on the sides. Faint transverse cut marks on the sides of some bricks. Faces have velour texture and curved grooves. Some display overburns to dark brown or black. Interior contains up to 3 percent rounded to subangular white clay clasts up to 1/4 inch across in a compact red sandy clay body. This brick was made using the stiff-mud, wire cut, repressed brick process. Length 8, width 3 7/8, height 2 1/2 inches.

Peterson-Kartschoke pressed brick
View of the sides of Petersen-Kartschoke pressed brick.


Peterson-Kartschoke pressed brick
View of the face of the Petersen-Kartschoke brick showing velour texture and curved grooves.

Peterson-Kartschoke pressed brick
View of the side of a red Petersen-Kartschoke pressed brick.


Peterson-Kartschoke pressed brick
View of the side of a Petersen-Kartschoke pressed brick showing flash patterns.


Peterson-Kartschoke pressed brick
View of the side of a Petersen-Kartschoke pressed brick showing flash patterns.


Peterson-Kartschoke pressed brick
View of the side of a Petersen-Kartschoke pressed brick showing the short dash impressions from a conveyor belt.


Peterson-Kartschoke pressed brick interior
View of the interior of a Petersen-Kartschoke pressed brick.


Common Brick

The common brick is orange-red to red and uniform in color. The surface has a fine coating of quartz sand. The sides display flashing of yellow on some and stack indentations. The edges are slightly undulating and dull. The corners are dull. The top face is rough and pitted. A thin lip 1/8 inch thick may be around the top edges. The bottom face is flat and smooth. On marked faces, there is a rectangular frog with beveled sides. A larger frog is 6 3/8 inches in length, 2 1/8 inches in width, and 1/4 inch deep. A smaller frog is 6 inches in length, 2 inches in width, and 3/16 inch in depth. Centered in the bottom of the frog is the company abbreviation P.K.B.CO in raised block letters. In the larger version, the letters span 5 5/8 inches and stand 1 1/4 inch tall. In the smaller version, the letters span 5 1/4 inches and stand 1 1/4 inches tall. The letters are 1/8 inch in thickness. The interior is composed of about 5 percent subrounded white or yellowish clay, subrounded to subangular white quartz, well-rounded red siltstone and sandstone, all less than 1/2 inch across, in a slightly porous, orange-red sandy clay body. The white clay clasts are generally larger than the other clasts. This brick was made using the soft-mud process. Two sizes are noted. Larger size has length 8 1/4, width 3 7/8, height 2 5/8 inches. Smaller size has length 7 7/8, width 3 1/2, height 2 1/2 inches.

View of the marked face of the Peterson-Kartschoke common brick
View of the marked face of the Petersen-Kartschoke common brick.

View of the side of the Peterson-Kartschoke common brick
View of the side of the Petersen-Kartschoke common brick.

View of the side of the Petersen-Kartschoke common brick showing flashing and stack indentation.
View of the side of the Petersen-Kartschoke common brick showing flashing and stack indentation.

View of the rough top face of the Peterson-Kartschoke common brick
View of the rough top face of the Petersen-Kartschoke common brick.

View of the interior clay body of the Peterson-Kartschoke common brick
"View of the interior clay body of the Petersen-Kartschoke common brick.

Close-up view of a round white clay, 1/2 inch in diameter, in the Petersen-Kartschoke common brick.
Close-up view of a round white clay, 1/2 inch in diameter, in the Petersen-Kartschoke common brick.

Microscopic view of the interior clay body of Petersen-Kartschoke pressed brick (50x, field of view is 1/4 inch).
Microscopic view of the interior clay body of the Petersen-
Kartschoke pressed brick (50x, field of view is 1/4 inch).


Pressed Brick

Pressed brick is red to reddish brown, with tiny white clasts visible on the surface. Smooth compact surface with minor chipping or spalling. Very light coating of fine sand of subangular quartz is on the surface. Form is good with straight sharp edges and sharp corners. Thin irregular lip, 1/8 inch thick, present along the top edges. Yellow flashing on the sides of some bricks. Some bricks are burnt black. Frog on the face has a rounded rectangular shape, 3/8 inch deep, and has beveled sides. It is 5 3/4 inches in length and 1 3/4 inches in width. The initials "PK" are raised in block letters, which span 1 1/4 inches and are 1 inch in height. Another brick of a larger size shown below from the Willits Carnegie Library has a frog 6 inches in length and 2 inches in width and 3/16 inch in depth. The letters span 2 1/8 inches and stand 1 1/8 inch in height and is 1/8 inch thick. Interior contains up to 3 percent rounded to subangular white clay clasts up to 1/4 inch across in a porous fine orange clay body. Pores range from 1/16 to 1/4 inch in diameter. This brick was made using a brick press. Two sizes are noted, the smaller brick has length 8, width 3 3/4, height 2 1/2 inches. The larger brick, which was made in 1914-1915, has length 8 1/8, width 3 7/8, height 2 3/4 inches.

View of the marked face of the Petersen-Kartschoke pressed brick
View of the marked face of the Petersen-Kartschoke pressed brick. Photo courtesy of Alan J. Miller.

View of the marked face of the Petersen-Kartschoke pressed brick
View of the interior of the Petersen-Kartschoke pressed brick. Photo courtesy of Alan J. Miller.

View of the sides of the Petersen-Kartschoke pressed brick in the walls of<br />
the Carnegie Library at Willits, California.
View of the sides of the Petersen-Kartschoke pressed brick in the walls of
the Carnegie Library at Willits, California. These bricks were made in 1914.

View of the sides of the Petersen-Kartschoke pressed brick in the walls of<br />
the Carnegie Library at Willits, California.
View of the sides of the Petersen-Kartschoke pressed brick in the walls of
the Carnegie Library at Willits, California. These bricks were made in 1914.

View of the sides of the Petersen-Kartschoke pressed brick in the walls of<br />
the Carnegie Library at Willits, California.
View of the sides of the Petersen-Kartschoke pressed brick in the walls of
the Carnegie Library at Willits, California. These bricks were made in 1914.

Stock Brick

Stock brick is a sand-struck, orange-red brick with a beveled, round-rectangular frog on the bottom face, which measures 5 3/4 inches long and 1 3/4 inches wide, and is 1/8 to 1/4 inch deep. The top face is pitted with longitudinal strike marks. The surface has small pits. This brick was made using the soft-mud process. Length 8 1/4, width 3 3/4, height 2 3/8 - 2 3/4 inches.

View of the face of a stock brick with a rounded rectangular frog
View of the face of a stock brick with a rounded rectangular frog.


Tile

Examples of some of the tile manufactured by Petersen-Kartschoke are displayed below.

Peterson-Kartschoke round patio tile
View of the round patio tile made by the Petersen-Kartschoke Brick Company.


Peterson-Kartschoke round tile
View of a colorful round tile made by the Petersen-Kartschoke Brick Company.


References

Architect and Engineer, February 1914, p. 30.

Bradley, Walter W., California Mineral Production For 1919, California State Mining Bureau Bulletin 88, 1920, p. 71.

Brick, April 1902, p. 183.

Brick, November 15, 1905, p. 39.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 78, no. 3, 1931, p. 171.

Craft, H.A., Making Building Brick on the Pacific Coast Successful San Jose Enterprise, Brick, v. 31, no. 2, August 1909, p. 51-52.

Crawford, J.J., Structural Materials, California State Mining Bureau 13th Report of the State Mineralogist, 1896, p. 618.

Foote, H.S., Pen Pictures from the Garden of the World or Santa Clara County, California, The Lewis Publishing Co., Chicago, IL, 1888.

Huguenin, E., and Castello, W.O., Santa Clara County, California State Mining Bureau 17th Report of the State Mineralogist, 1921, p. 182.

Kennedy, George L., written communications, 2014.

Laffey, Glory Anne, Nineteenth Century Brick Making in Santa Clara County, San Jose State University Geography Report, 1980.

Map of the City of San Jose, California, 1913.

Miller, Alan J., written communications on the PK pressed brick, 2015.

Sacramento Daily Union, Articles of Incorporations, March 4, 1893.

San Jose City Directories, 1882-1925.

San Jose Mercury News, S.J. Builder of Observatory Dies, February 5 ,1928, p 15.

Copyright 2004, 2015 Dan Mosier

Contact Dan Mosier at danmosier@earthlink.net.