California brick
CALIFORNIA BRICKS


Southwestern Brick Company, Long Beach

History


The Southwestern Brick Company was incorporated in early 1920 with a capital stock of $25,000, and headquartered in Long Beach, California. The directors of the company were J. C. Suits, W. M. Branstedter, and William L. Mulford. William Mulford had previously established the Mulford-Burke Brick Company and the Mulford Vitrified Brick Company in Los Angeles. Now he was working the clay deposit that he and his partners had found in the lowlands west of the Pacific Electric tracks at Willowville, in the western section of Long Beach. They established the brick plant for the manufacture of common red brick.

There is no description of the Southwestern brickyard. But the surviving bricks reveal that they had used the soft-mud process for making common brick. It is possible that the bricks were molded in a brick machine, air dried, and fired in field kilns during the dry months of the year. The bricks were used locally in Long Beach and in the neighboring towns.

Shortly after the brickyard was established, the Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance protecting the residential section of Willowville. The brickyard and other industrial firms tried to change the section into an industrial zone, but the opposition was too strong. The Southwestern Brick Company was forced to apply for a permit to continue manufacturing brick, which was granted on August 2, 1920. But with the encroaching residential development, their future looked dim.

In 1924, the Southwestern Brick Company purchased a new site in San Pedro for their brick plant, probably in preparation to moving their Long Beach operation there. In 1925, the new company officers elected were William R. Mulford as president and general manager, William Branstedter as vice-president, and W. G. Stevenson as secretary-treasurer. The new directors were W. R. Mulford, W. M. Branstedter, C. H. Wentz, Eugene E. Tincher, and W. G. Stevenson. About this time, the company became a member of the California Common Brick Manufacturers Association.

In November 1925, the Southwestern Brick Company of Long Beach was purchased by the Western Brick Company of Los Angeles, a company incorporated in 1921. This ended the production of Southwestern bricks at both plants at Long Beach and San Pedro.

Southwestern Brick


Common brick is orange red, mostly uniform in color. Form is irregular with dull edges and corners. The surface is coated with fine sand and has minor cracks or crackles and pits. Edges around the top face may be rimmed with a 1/8-inch lip. Sides show fine transverse striations. Top face is highly pitted with irregular shaped pits up to 1 inch across. Bottom face is flat with a beveled rectangular frog 5 7/8 inches long, 2 inches wide, and 1/8 inch deep. In the bottom of the frog are the initials of the company "S.W.B." in raised block letters that span 5 inches in length, 1 1/8 inches in height. The periods are 3/16 inch in diameter. The interior clay body has a fine sandy texture with some lumps of clay up to 1/4 inch across. The clay is noticeably lacking clasts. This brick was made by the soft-mud process. Length 8 1/4, width 4, height 2 1/2 inches.

Southwestern brick
View of the bottom face of a S.W.B. common brick showing the company initials raised inside a rectangular frog.

Southwestern brick
View of the top face of a S.W.B. common brick.

Southwestern brick
View of the side of a S.W.B. common brick.

Southwestern brick
View of the end of a S.W.B. common brick. Note the interior clay body on the left edge.

References

Brick and Clay Record, v. 56, no. 12, 1920, p. 1125.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 57, no. 2, 1920, p. 148.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 57, no. 5, 1920, p. 419.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 64, no. 9, 1924, p. 669.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 65, no. 3, 1924, p. 190.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 66, no. 4, 1925, p. 300.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 66, no. 10, 1925, p. 759.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 67, no. 10, 1925, p. 736.

Garcia, David, written communication, 2006.

Copyright 2010 Dan Mosier

Contact Dan Mosier at danmosier@earthlink.net.