California brick
CALIFORNIA BRICKS


Richard Webb

History


Richard Webb
Richard Webb (shown on the right) was born in England in 1845. He immigrated to the United States in 1871 and was naturalized in San Francisco in 1876. That year, he went to Sutter Creek and started a semi-weekly newspaper. In 1877, he married Mary Jones and they settled in Jackson, Amador County, California. Richard Webb built a two-story brick building on Main Street in Jackson that was known as Webb Hall. For many years it was the home of the Amador Ledger, of which he was the editor since 1883.

Webb also owned the Pine Grove Hotel in Pine Grove on Highway 88, ten miles east of Jackson. This hotel stood on 160 acres of land and contained a vineyard and orchard. Following the burning of the original wooden hotel in July 1900, Webb decided to replace his hotel with a two-story brick building. In August 1900, Webb had shipped an old brick machine from Jackson to Pine Grove. In the following month, he made 150,000 common bricks. The clay for the bricks probably was dug from the property at the hotel site. The material was not screened or crushed. It went directly into a pugmill. The machine-formed bricks were set on the ground to dry in the sun, indicated by the rock imprints on the surface. A field kiln was used to fire the bricks.

Pine Grove Hotel
View of the Pine Grove Hotel, now Gianninis Italian Restaurant, in Pine Grove, California.


Brick mason W. L. Fortner was employed to do the brickwork. The hotel was completed by March 1, 1901 and a grand opening ball was given on March 30, 1901. The hotel contained a bar with bathroom and ten rooms to rent. Today, it stands as Gianninis Italian Restaurant with a modified stucco-covered front and wooden additions in the rear and sides.

West wall of the Pine Grove Hotel
View of the west side wall of the Pine Grove Hotel.


East wall of the Pine Grove Hotel
View of the east side wall of the Pine Grove Hotel.


Arched brickwork in the Pine Grove Hotel
View of the arched brickwork in the window of the Pine Grove Hotel.


Webb Brick

The common brick is in various shades of orange-red. The surface is coated with fine sand of mostly subangular clear quartz and lesser cream feldspar and shiny mica flakes. The form is irregular with dull edges and corners and some are slightly warped. There is an irregular lip around the top face of the brick. The sides of the brick may have large cracks and visible white quartz in places, which can range up to an inch across. Some faint light flashing and stack indentations are evident on some sides. The ends of some are burnt to a dark brown and commonly associated with cracks. The bottom face is flat and even. The top face is rough and pitted with longitudinal strike marks. The interior contains as much as 10 percent subangular white quartz and tabular brownish slate that are mostly less than 1/2 inch across, but some reaching lengths of as much as 1 inch. Some wood imprints indicate the presence of wood pieces in the clay, which is a porous orange-red sandy clay. This brick was made in 1900 by the soft-mud process using a brick mold machine. The brick size is shorter and thinner than standard. Length 7, width 3 7/8, height 2 inches.

Webb common brick
View of Webb brick in the side wall of the Pine Grove Hotel, showing the brickwork.


Webb common brick
View of Webb brick in the side wall of the Pine Grove Hotel, showing the overburnt end and cracks.


Webb common brick
View of Webb brick in the side wall of the Pine Grove Hotel, showing the overburnt end and irregular lip.


Webb common brick
View of Webb brick in the side wall of the Pine Grove Hotel.


Webb common brick interior
View of interior of Webb brick showing the white quartz clasts and porous clay body.


References

Amador Ledger, Jackson, August 24, 1900.

Amador Ledger, Jackson, August 26, 1910.

Amador Ledger, Jackson, October 5, 1900.

Amador Ledger, Jackson, September 7, 1900.

Amador Ledger, Jackson, September 21, 1900.

Amador Ledger, Pine Grove Hotel, Jackson, January 25, 1901.

Amador Ledger, Pine Grove Hotel, Jackson, July 22, 1910.

Amador Ledger, Pine Grove Hotel, Jackson, March 15, 1901.

Amador Ledger, Pine Grove Hotel Burned, Jackson, July 27, 1900.

Amador Ledger, What They Say of the Ledger, Jackson, November 15, 1907.

Federal Census Records, 1900.

Mason, J.D., History of Amador County, California, Thompson and West, Oakland, 1881.

Mother Lode History II Class, Jackson's History of Jackson, Jackson High School, 1980.

Copyright 2012 Dan Mosier

Contact Dan Mosier at danmosier@earthlink.net.