CALIFORNIA BRICKS


Pacific Sewer Pipe Company Lincoln Heights Plant

Advertisement of the Pacific Sewer Pipe Company.
Advertisement from the Los Angeles City Directory, 1911.

History


Edward M. Durant.
In 1910, the Pacific Sewer Pipe Company was incorporated in Los Angeles with a capital stock of $1,000,000. The directors were Foster C. Austin, Paul E. Greer, Fred W. Esgen, and S.M. Simpson. Edward M. Durant (shown right) was elected president. His father, Edward G. Durant was president of the Pacific Clay Manufacturing Company and the California Fireproof Construction Company, both of which had sewer pipe plants in Riverside County. The company office was first located at the Hellman building at 124 West Fourth Street in Los Angeles, then from 1914 to 1919, at 825 East Seventh Street, and afterwards on the sixth floor of the American Building at 129 West Second Street in Los Angeles.

The Pacific Sewer Pipe Company was organized by Durant and others to purchase and consolidate sewer pipe companies for the manufacture of vitrified sewer pipe. In 1910, the five companies purchased included the Pacific Clay Manufacturing Company at Corona, the Corona Pressed Brick and Terra Cotta Company at Corona, the California Fireproof Construction Company at Terra Cotta (Alberhill), the California Clay Manufacturing Company at Los Angeles, and the Douglass Clay Product Company (formerly Los Angeles Stone and Sewer Pipe Company) at Los Angeles. All but three of these company's plants were closed and dismantled. The three plants that remained open were the Pacific Clay Manufacturing Company's plant at Corona, the Douglass Clay Product Company's plant at Lincoln Heights in Los Angeles, and the California Clay Manufacturing Company's plant on Central Avenue (Slauson Avenue) in Los Angeles. The plant at Terra Cotta was operated only in 1911. In 1912, they built a new sewer pipe plant at Los Nietos near Whittier.

The focus here is on the Lincoln Heights plant in Los Angeles, where most of the bricks from the Pacific Sewer Pipe Company were manufactured. The Lincoln Heights plant was erected by the
Los Angeles Stoneware and Sewer Pipe Company in 1891 at 320/423 Avenue 26 on over six acres of land. In 1906, the Douglass Clay Product Company operated the plant until it was acquired by the Pacific Sewer Pipe Company in 1910, and it became Plant no. 4. This plant was originally equipped to manufacture sewer pipe, brick, and stoneware. Pacific Sewer Pipe Company decided to use this plant only for the manufacture brick, roofing tile, and stoneware. Brick production began in 1911.

Over 20 different clays were shipped to this plant by rail from Riverside, Orange, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Placer counties. Two railroads, Santa Fe and Union Pacific, had sidings for the plant. The machinery was powered by a 200 h.p. engine. The plant was equipped to use either natural gas or fuel oil. It employed from 100 to 130 workers. J.L. Davies was the plant superintendent.

The brick department at the Lincoln Heights plant was equipped with three dry pans, Hummer screens, two pug-mills, two auger machines, two 14-brick American cutters, two represses, two humidity dryers, an overhead traveling crane with clam shell for clay unloading, and two electric lift trucks with pallets for handling brick. The bricks were dried in the humidity driers in 42 hours. Bricks were fired for 6 days in 11 kilns of 30 feet in diameter. The finishing temperature was 2,100 degrees F. The kilns were equipped with pyrometers, using the Orton standard cones. Overall plant capacity was 40,000 brick per day.

View of the Pacific Sewer Pipe Company Lincoln Heights plant, formerly owned the Los Angeles Stoneware and Sewer Pipe Company.
View of the Pacific Sewer Pipe Company Lincoln Heights plant, formerly owned
the Los Angeles Stoneware and Sewer Pipe Company. From Aubrey, 1908.

The company's laboratories were located here, where they could perform chemical and testing work. A high temperature kiln, capable of heating up to 3,400 degrees F, was used for testing firebrick. Routine testing for color and shrinkage were also made.

Three grades of standard firebrick were made, with softening points of about 3,200 degrees F, 3,100 degrees F, and 3,000 degrees F, respectively. The highest grade brick was hand molded. The others were made on the auger machine and repressed. They were burned to 2,500 degrees F. Special shapes were also made in the refractory line. This plant made the PSP, ACORN, EXCELSIOR and HIGH GRADE brands of firebrick, the latter two brands of which were started by the Douglass Clay Product Company.

Face and enamel bricks were made using the stiff-mud extruder and wire-cut. For face bricks, both smooth and rough textures were made in shades of red, tan, gray, and other colors. Vitrified paving blocks were also made. Beginning in June 1913, enamel bricks were made on biscuit, or burned pressed brick, which were coated with enamel slips and burned a second time to mature the glaze. Enamel mat and transparent glaze were made. Enamel bricks were popular and shipped to points around the Pacific. Dry pressed bricks were sent to the kiln without drying and were fired to about 2,050 degrees F. During the repress process, the company's initials "PSP" were stamped on the face of each brick inside a rectangular frog.

Enamel brick adverstisement. From Architect and Engineer, 1914.
Advertisement for enamel bricks.
From Architect and Engineer, 1914.

Pacific Sewer Company bricks were shipped throughout the western states and to points across the Pacific Ocean. Most of them, however, were sold in the southwestern region of the United States, where they are commonly found today. Among the first orders came in early 1911 from the Mission Winery at Elsinore, California, where vitrified paving blocks were used. The first firebricks were shipped to the local oil fields and oil refineries. Face bricks were used in some buildings in Los Angeles and in the surrounding cities and towns. One building at Seventh and Santa Fe in Los Angeles provides some of the examples of PSP buff face brick shown below. At the 1891 State Fair, the company won best awards for their firebrick, paving brick, sewer pipe, water pipe, and display of fire clay.

In 1921, the directors of the Pacific Sewer Pipe Company voted to change the name of the company to better suit their scope and manufacturing products. The new company name was changed to the Pacific Clay Products Company. The directors at that time were Edward M. Durant, president; N.W. Stowell and J.H. Bullard, vice-presidents, and Archibald Douglass, secretary. Frederick Wightman and J.W. Swanwick, along with the president, were the directorate. The only change was the name on the bricks. See the Pacific Clay Products Company for further information about the Lincoln Height plant and bricks.

President Edward M. Durant was born at Brooklyn, New York, in 1867, to Edward G. and Caroline Durant. He was educated in the public schools at Racine, Wisconsin. He went to Los Angeles in 1887 and worked with his father at the Pacific Clay Manufacturing Company at Corona. There he worked in every branch of the business from clerk to mining clay and making pipe to the superintendent. Ill health caused him to resign his position. He worked for the Fairmont Land and Farming Company, which was selling land for farmers in the Antelope Valley. He also ran a large cattle ranch in the Antelope Valley. In 1893, he married Mary Case at Los Angeles, and they raised two sons and a daughter at their residence in Los Angeles. From 1906 to 1909, Durant was an officer in the Western Art Tile Company. In 1910, he organized the Pacific Sewer Pipe Company and became president of the company. He was also involved with several other mining ventures and investments in the region. By 1930, Durant was retired and living in South Pasadena with his wife. He died in 1942 at the age of 75.

Pacific Sewer Pipe Company Bricks

Face Bricks

Face brick is buff and has smooth surfaces. The form is excellent with straight sharp edges and sharp corners. The surface has tiny pits and minor brown iron oxide spots. On the marked face is a shallow rectangular frog that is 4 1/4 inches long, 1 1/2 inches wide, and 1/8 inch deep. Centered in the frog are the company abbreviations PSP in recessed block letters that span 3 1/4 inches and stand 1 inch in height. Round screw imprints on the each side of the name is 1/4 inch in diameter. The interior consists of granular subrounded white alumina less than 1/16 inch in diameter. This brick was made using the dry pressed process. Length 8 3/8, width 4 1/8, height 2 3/8 inches.

View of the sides of the PSP buff face brick.
View of the sides of the PSP buff pressed face brick.

View of the face and end of the PSP buff face brick.
View of the face and end of the PSP buff pressed face brick.

View of the bullnose corner mold (left) and stretchers (right) of the PSP buff pressed ornamental brick.
View of the bullnose corner mold (left) and stretchers (right) of the PSP buff pressed ornamental brick.

Enamel Bricks

Enamel brick is buff and has smooth surfaces. The form is excellent with straight sharp edges and sharp corners. The surface has tiny pits and minor brown iron oxide spots. One long side and one end is coated with white glossy enamel. On the marked face is a shallow rectangular frog that is 4 1/4 inches long, 1 1/2 inches wide, and 1/8 inch deep. Centered in the frog is the company abbreviations PSP in recessed block letters that span 3 1/4 inches and stands 1 inch in height. Round screw imprints on each side of the name is 1/4 inch in diameter. The interior consists of granular subrounded white alumina less than 1/16 inch in diameter. This brick was made using the stiff-mud process and repressed. Length 8 3/8, width 4 1/8, height 2 3/8 inches.

View of the marked face of the PSP white enamel brick.
View of the marked face of the PSP white enamel brick. Donated by George L. Kennedy.

View of the white enamel coated side of the PSP enamel brick.
View of the white enamel coated side of the PSP enamel brick. Donated by George L. Kennedy.

View of the unmarked face of the PSP enamel brick.
View of the unmarked face of the PSP enamel brick. Donated by George L. Kennedy.

View of the uncoated side of the PSP enamel brick.
View of the uncoated side of the PSP enamel brick. Donated by George L. Kennedy.

View of the interior clay body of the PSP enamel brick.
View of the interior clay body of the PSP
enamel brick. Donated by George L. Kennedy.

Firebricks

PSP Acorn firebrick is buff and has smooth surfaces. The form is good with straight nearly sharp edges and dull corners. There are tiny pits on the surface and round brown iron oxide spots. The faces show a faint wire-cut with slightly angled grooves in the longitudinal direction. The unmarked face displays dashes, which are imprints from the conveyor belt. The marked face has on the first line the company abbreviations PSP in recessed block letters that span 3 1/8 inches and stand 1 inch in height and is centered on the face. The second line is the brand name ACORN in recessed block letters that span 3 7/8 inches and stand 3/4 inch in height. A faint plate outline 3 1/4 inches wide runs longitudinally across the face. The interior contains 15 percent subrounded gray quartz and black iron oxide, all less than 1/4 inch in diameter, in a compact salmon to buff clay body. This brick was made using the stiff-mud process and repressed, indicating that it was one of the lower-grade firebricks. Length 9, width 4 1/4, height 2 1/2 inches.

View of the marked face of the PSP Acorn firebrick. Donated by George L. Kennedy.
View of the marked face of the PSP Acorn firebrick. Donated by George L. Kennedy.

View of the unmarked face of the PSP Acorn firebrick.
View of the unmarked face of the PSP Acorn firebrick. Donated by George L. Kennedy.

View of the interior clay body of the PSP Acorn firebrick.
View of the interior clay body of the PSP Acorn firebrick.

Another variety of the PSP Acorn firebrick is buff and has smooth surfaces. The form is good with straight nearly sharp edges and broken corners. The surface has tiny pits, crackles, minor cracks, and round brown iron oxide spots. There are no striations or grooves noted on the surfaces, indicating a pressed brick. The marked face has on the first line the company abbreviations PSP in recessed block letters that span 3 1/2 inches and stand 1 inch in height. The second line is the brand logo of an acorn shape recessed and 1 1/8 inches wide and in height. A faint plate outline 3 5/8 inches wide runs longitudinally across the length of the brick and a faint margin outline runs transversely about 1/2 inch from the right edge of the brick. One end shows two round screw imprints 1/2 inch in diameter between a lug that extends from the marked face edge 1 1/4 inches in length and is 3/8 inch wide. The other end shows a similar imprint pattern except there is only one screw imprint 3/4 inch in diameter left of the lug. The interior contains 3 percent brown iron oxide in a granular white fused alumina, less than 1/8 inch in diameter. This brick was made using the wet pressed process. This Acorn variety firebrick is slightly larger in size than the previously mentioned Acorn firebrick. Length 9, width 4 1/2, height 2 5/8 inches.

View of the marked face of the PSP Acorn firebrick. Donated by Ken Leonard.
View of the marked face of the PSP Acorn firebrick. Donated by Ken Leonard.

View of the side of the PSP Acorn firebrick. Donated by Ken Leonard.
View of the side of the PSP Acorn firebrick. Donated by Ken Leonard.

View of the end of the PSP Acorn firebrick showing two screw imprint and a lug.
View of the end of the PSP Acorn firebrick showing
two screw imprint and a lug. Donated by Ken Leonard.

View of the end of the PSP Acorn firebrick showing one screw imprint and a lug.
View of the end of the PSP Acorn firebrick showing
one screw imprint and a lug. Donated by Ken Leonard.

The PSP Excelsior firebrick is light buff and has smooth surfaces. The surface has crackles, cracks, pits, fine striations, and brown iron oxide spots. The form is excellent with straight sharp edges and broken corners that spalls easily. The faces display a faint velour texture in the transverse direction with short grooves in the longitudinal direction. The unmarked face has longitudinal striations and grooves and faintly dimpled conveyor belt imprints. The marked face has two adjacent plate outlines, each being 1 1/4 inches wide and running the length of the brick. At each end of the name plate is a round screw imprint 1/2 inch in diameter. The top plate contains the company abbreviations P.S.P. CO in recessed block letters that span 4 1/2 inches and stand 3/4 inch in height. The periods are square shaped. The bottom plate contains the brand name EXCELSIOR in recessed block letters that span 6 inches and stand 3/4 inch in height. The interior is composed of granular white fused alumina with 5 percent brown iron oxide spots, all less than 1/16 inch in diameter. This brick was made using the stiff-mud process and repressed. Length 9, width 4 1/2, height 2 1/4 inches.

View of the marked face of the PSP Excelsior firebrick.
View of the marked face of the PSP Excelsior firebrick. Donated by David Garcia.

View of the unmarked face of the PSP Excelsior firebrick.
View of the unmarked face of the PSP Excelsior firebrick. Donated by David Garcia.

View of the side of the PSP Excelsior firebrick.
View of the side of the PSP Excelsior firebrick. Donated by David Garcia.

The PSP High Grade firebrick, probably an early version, is buff and has smooth surfaces. The surface has pits and exposed minerals of white quartz. The form in the example shown was excellent with straight and dull edges (originally sharp) and dull corners. The bottom part of the brick has been broken off. The marked face displays a large outline of the rectangular name plate, which contains on the first line the company abbreviations P S P in recessed block letters. The second line has the brand name HIGH GRADE in recessed block letters. This brick was made using the soft-mud process. Dimensions are unavailable.

View of the marked face of the PSP HIGH GRADE firebrick.
View of the marked face of the PSP High Grade firebrick. Photo courtesy of Albert Sanders.

The PSP High Grade firebrick, probably a late version, is buff and has smooth surfaces. The surface has crackles, pits, and exposed minerals of white quartz and brown iron oxides. The form is excellent with straight and sharp edges and dull corners. The marked face displays on the first line the company abbreviations P.S.P. CO in recessed block letters that span 4 1/2 inches and stand 3/4 inch in height. The periods are square shaped. The second line has the brand name HIGH GRADE in recessed block letters that span 7 inches and stand 3/4 inch in height. This brick was made using the soft-mud process. The Length 9, width 4 1/2, height ? inches.

View of the marked face of the PSP CO HIGH GRADE firebrick.
View of the marked face of the PSP High Grade firebrick. Photo courtesy of Mike Bunij.

References

Aubrey, Lewis E., The Structural and Industrial Materials of California, California State Mining Bureau Bulletin 38, 1906.

Architect and Engineer, June 1913, p. 127.

Architect and Engineer, October 1914, p. 29.

Boalich, E.S., Castello, W.O., Huguenin, Emile, Logan, C.A., and Tucker, W.B., The Clay Industry In California, California State Mining Bureau Preliminary Report 7, 1920, p. 57-58.

Brick, v. 33, no. 4, 1910, p. 182.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 38, no. 12, 1911, p. 584.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 39, no. 6, 1911, p. 238.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 39, no. 10, 1911, p. 396.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 40, no. 1, 1912, p. 57.

Bunij, Mike, written communications, 2014.

Clay Record, v. 36, no. 11, 1910, p. 30.

Clay Record, v. 36, no. 12, 1910, p. 30.

Clay-Worker, v. 75, no. 2, 1921, p. 163.

Fairmont Town Council, The History of Fairmont http://www.fairmonttowncouncil.com (accessed November 25, 2014).

Federal Census Records, 1880.

Federal Census Records, 1900.

Federal Census Records, 1910.

Garcia, David, written communications and brick donation, 2009.

Guinn, J.M., History of California and an Extended History of Los Angeles and Environs, Historic Record Co., Los Angeles, California, 1915, p. 727.

Kennedy, George L., personal communications and brick donations, 2014.

Laizure, C.M., Los Angeles and Riverside Counties, California State Mining Bureau 18th Report of the State Mineralogist, 1923, p. 173-183.

Leonard, Ken, personal communications and brick donation, 1987.

Los Angeles City Directory, 1910.

Los Angeles City Directory, 1911.

Los Angeles City Directory, 1914.

Los Angeles City Directory, 1920.

Los Angeles City Directory, 1922.

Los Angeles Examiner, Press Reference Library, Notables of the Southwest, Southwest Edition, Los Angeles, California, 1912, p. 179.

Los Angeles Herald, December 24, 1905.

Merrill, F.J.H., Los Angeles County, Orange County, Riverside County, California State Mining Bureau 15th Report of the State Mineralogist, part 4, 1917, p. 461-589.

Sanders, Albert, written communications and brick donation, 2016.

Sixth District Agricultural Association, Appendix to the Journals of the Senate and Assembly of the Twenty-Ninth Session of the Legislature of the State of California, Volume 8, Sacramento, California, 1891, p. 741.


Copyright 2014 Dan Mosier

Contact Dan Mosier at danmosier@earthlink.net.