Pureclay Brick and Tile Company
About 1905, T. P. Brown opened a brick plant on the banks of the Russian
River at Hilton, where a 70-foot bank of clay was found on 46 acres of land. In
1906, the yard was operated by the Hilton Brick Company, which sold bricks locally. By 1909,
the Pureclay Brick and Tile Company was formed to operate the plant. They set
up a distributing office at 103 Main Street in San Francisco. O. J. Crossfield
was president, E. Aigeltinger was vice-president, and F. Wagner was the general
manager. C. W. Randall, formerly with Bonner & Marshall Company, Chicago,
Illinois, was in charge of the sales and distributing yard at North Point and
Taylor streets in San Francisco.
The large plant at Hilton was managed by E. T. Maples, formerly with the California
Pottery in Antioch, California. The plant had a 20-compartment continuous-burning
kiln, with a capacity of 30,000 brick per day. In 1909, $30,000 was spent by
the company to upgrade the plant, which manufactured common and pressed bricks.
The pressed brick was not machine-pressed, but said to be as good as high
quality machine-pressed face brick. A branch of the Northwestern Pacific
railroad was used to ship the bricks to distant markets.
Pureclay bricks were used to face the U. S. Post Office at Santa Rosa, the side walls of the Masonic
Temple at Sonoma, and many other buildings. The plant operated until 1912, when it was closed.
The company was listed as late as 1913 with J. H. Stack as the manager at the
San Francisco office. In 1916, the brick property was sold to the Thompson Brick
Common brick is light orange, orange-red, dark orange, or brown, mostly uniform in color. Edges are straight
and nearly sharp. Corners are dull. Short edges are rounded. Surface is smooth and often with clumps of clay attached.
Sides show dark flashing, faint stack indentations, pits, minor cracks, and transverse grooves. Ends show a
conspicuous single longitudinal groove near one of the edges on many bricks. Faces show a velour texture angled
slightly in the longitudinal direction with wire-cut grooves at relatively higher angles normal to the velour
Visible clasts seen on the surface are subangular to angular white quartz up to 1/4 inch across. Interior
contains in addition to the quartz, less than 10 percent round red chert and cream feldspar, less than 1/4 inch
in diameter, in a porous orange-red sandy clay body. This brick was made by the stiff-mud process.
Length 8, width 3 5/8, height 2 3/8 inches.
View of the sides of the Pureclay common brick in the side wall of the Masonic Temple, Sonoma.
View of the side of the Pureclay common brick showing clumps of attached clay on the surface.
View of the side of the Pureclay common brick showing dark flashing in the center.
View of the end of the Pureclay common brick showing
a longitudinal groove immediately below the top edge.
View of part of the face of the Pureclay common brick showing velour texture.
View of the interior clay body of the Pureclay common brick.
Architect and Engineer, August 1909.
Copyright © 2006 Dan Mosier
Architect and Engineer, December 1909.
Aubrey, Lewis E. The Structural and Industrial Materials of California.
California State Mining Bureau Bulletin 38, 1906, p. 258.
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. 99.
San Francisco City Directories, 1909-1913.
Sonoma Index Tribune, December 1, 1906.