California brick
CALIFORNIA BRICKS


Richmond Brick Company
Allied Unions Brick Company

History


In 1902, Julian E. Cary opened a brickyard on Garrard Blvd., now Dornan Drive, one mile west of Richmond at Point Richmond. This yard was also known as the Cary or Carey Brick Works. On March 24, 1902, the Richmond Brick Company was incorporated in San Francisco. The capital stock was $100,000. The directors were Jacob Stern, Julian E. Cary, Sol Wangenheim, A. Hochstein, all of San Francisco, and E. A. Vining of Alameda. The main office was at 122 Davis Street in San Francisco.

Gray shale mined from a quarry on the hill behind the plant was used to make bricks. The bricks were made by hand using the soft-mud process for the common brick and a brick press for the pressed face brick. Cary built a patent kiln of his own design that used both oil and coal as well as a drier. The machinery was run by steam power and the plant was to have a capacity of one million bricks per month. In 1904, the old kiln was replaced by a patent continuous kiln, 150 feet long and 60 feet wide, with a capacity of 800,000 brick. In 1907, new drying sheds with eight tracks were added to the yard.

These bricks were used locally in the Richmond area and shipped on the Santa Fe railroad, which passed by the plant, to other cities. In 1907, the company got a large contract to provide two million bricks for the cannery of the California Fruit Canners' Association at North Beach in San Francisco.

Hard times hit the plant in 1911, when it first closed. Cary attempted to resume brick manufacturing again in 1913, but his efforts failed. In 1916, Cary sued the City of Richmond for damages to his yard from the construction of the highway to the harbor. He was awarded $17,000 for damages.

In 1917, local brick layers organized the Allied Unions Brick Company to reopen the plant. Joseph B. Cann was president and E. E. Dooley was secretary and manager of the new firm, which was incorporated with a capital of $5,000. The plant was overhauled and new machinery placed to produce 140,000 brick or tile per day. This operation closed in 1918.

The brick plant was razed and the site is now occupied by the Golden State Model Railroad Museum within the Miller-Knox Regional Shoreline at Point Richmond.

Richmond Brick

Common brick is red to pale red, mostly uniform in color. Visible clasts on the top face are only a few red chert up to 1/4 inch across, and angular white quartz, up to 1/2 inch across. On the sides and ends can be seen sparkly fine feldspar crystals and fine transverse grooves. Some have stack indentations, cracks, and minor pits. The side edges are irregular and dull. The top face is highly pitted with an irregular, uneven surface. Around the top face can be seen a thin lip on some bricks. Bottom face is flat and even with minor pits and cracks. Interior clay body displays a range of red chert and shale clasts up to 1/2 inch across and a few black iron spots of irregular shape. This brick was made using the hand-molded, soft-mud process. Length 8, width 3 3/4, height 2 3/4 inches.

Richmond Brick Company common brick
View of the side of the Richmond Brick Company brick.

Richmond Brick Company common brick
View of the end of the Richmond Brick Company brick.


Richmond Brick Company common brick
View of the top face of the Richmond Brick Company brick.

Richmond Brick Company common brick
View of the bottom face of the Richmond Brick Company brick.


View of the interior clay body of the Richmond common brick.
View of the interior clay body of the Richmond common brick.


Microscopic view of the interior clay body of the Richmond common brick (50x, field of view is 1/4 inch).
Microscopic view of the interior clay body of the Richmond
common brick (50x, field of view is 1/4 inch).


References

Article of Incorporation of the Richmond Brick Company, March 24, 1902.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 16, no. 6, 1902, p. 280.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 20, no. 3, 1904, p. 150.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 21, no. 2, 1904, p. 59.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 22, no. 3, 1905, p. 201.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 26, no. 6, 1907, p. 304.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 43, no. 6, 1913, p. 602.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 49, no. 7, 1916, p. 616.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 51, no. 5, 1916, p. 407.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 52, no. 3, 1917, p. 240.

Huguenin, E., and Castello, W. O., Mines and Mineral Resources Contra Costa County, California State Mining Bureau 17th Report of the State Mineralogist, 1920, p. 51.

Richmond City Directories, 1908-1918.

Copyright 2006 Dan Mosier

Contact Dan Mosier at danmosier@earthlink.net.