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Petersen Brick Company
From Architect and Engineer, 1914.
Theodore W. Petersen, 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. 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.
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. 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. Two Hoffman continuous
kilns, of 41,000 capacity each, were used to fire the brick, burning wood for fuel. The plant was equipped
with a large steam heated drying room. Electric power was used to operate the presses. Common and pressed
brick and floor tile were the products manufactured here. The output of pressed brick was 600,000 a year
in 1888. Total output of all bricks was 7 million per year.
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.
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. Petersen-Kartschoke ceased manufacturing bricks
in 1925. In 1929, Chandler and Charles Gladding purchased the brickyard and started the Gladding Brothers
Clay Products Company.
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
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.
Pressed brick was 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. Straight sharp edges and corners. Some
display fine criss-cross impressions from the conveyor belt on the sides. Faces have velour texture and curved
grooves. Some display overburns. Stiff-mud wire cut, pressed brick. Faint transverse cut marks on the sides.
Length 8, width 3 7/8, height 2 1/2.
Petersen-Kartschoke pressed brick.
Petersen-Kartschoke brick showing face with velour texture and curved grooves.
Architect and Engineer, February 1914, p. 30.
Copyright © 2004 Dan Mosier
Brick and Clay Record, April 1902, p. 183.
Brick and Clay Record, November 15, 1905, p. 39.
Brick and Clay Record, v. 78, no. 3, 1931, p. 171.
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. Chicago, IL:
The Lewis Publishing Co., 1888.
Huguenin, E., and Castello, W.O. Santa Clara County. California State Mining Bureau 17th Report of the
State Mineralogist, 1921, p. 182.
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.
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.
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