California brick
CALIFORNIA BRICKS


Western Brick Company, Plant No. 3, Long Beach

History


In November 1925, the Western Brick Company purchased the Southwestern Brick Company to manufacture common building brick at the Long Beach brickyard, which was located in the western part of Long Beach known as Willowville. The brickyard of the Southwestern Brick Company at San Pedro was probably closed, as that yard was not listed under the Western Brick Company.

Clay on the property was used to make red common brick, which were molded in six-brick wooden molds and fired in field kilns. No detailed description of this yard was found. One out of six bricks was marked on the face with the company name WESTERN inside a rectangular frog. The bricks from this yard is smaller in size, with smaller lettering and frog, and the style of the lettering is also different than on the bricks found at this company's other yards, that is, they are flattened and thicker. The apparent lack of clasts in the clay body is also an important feature.

These bricks were used in the Long Beach area and may have also served Los Angeles County. The example shown below was donated by David Garcia, who found the brick at the demolished RKO radio station building in Long Beach.

In 1930, the Western Brick Company merged with the Santa Monica Brick Company and the California Brick and Tile Company to form a new company called the Consolidated Brick and Tile Company of Los Angeles. Gus A. Wild, from Western's Santa Monica yard, became president of the new company. The Consolidated Brick and Tile Company probably closed the Western Brick Company yard at Long Beach, based on no reports of activity from the yard after that date. The Western Brick Company remained until about 1936, when it was dissolved.

Western Brick

The Western common brick of Long Beach is dark red and uniform in color. The surface is smooth, but has a gritty feel caused by a very fine coating of quartz sand. The edges are nearly sharp with slight undulations. The corners are dull. The sides show minor pits and clumps of clay. The top face is rough and pitted and no apparent strike is discernable. The bottom face is flat and the marked face has the company name WESTERN in raised block letters that span 5 1/2 inches and stand 7/8 inch in height. The name is centered inside a rectangular frog with beveled sides that is 6 1/4 inches in length and 1 7/8 inches in width. The letters have a flattened style and the letter "R" is different than that seen in other Western bricks made at this company's other yards. This along with the smaller size of the brick, the smaller size of the lettering and frog, and the lack of clasts in the clay body all distinguish this Western brick from others made by this company. The interior is a porous dark red sandy clay body. This brick was made using the soft-mud process. Length 8 1/8, width 3 3/4, height 2 1/2 inches.

View of the marked face of the Western common brick.
View of the marked face of the Western common brick. Donated by David Garcia.

View of the side of the Western common brick.
View of the side of the Western common brick.

View of the rough top face of the Western common brick.
View of the rough top face of the Western common brick.

View of the interior of the Western common brick.
View of the interior of the Western common brick.

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

References

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

California Has a "Western Brick Co.," Brick and Clay Record, v. 58, no. 5, 1921, p. 413.

Garcia, David, written communications, 2007.

Los Angeles City Directories, 1921-1930.

Santa Monica City Directories, 1923-1936.

Stoll, G.C. ledgers, Western Claymachinery Sales, Inc., copied by Josh Higgins, 2012.

Symons, Henry H., California Mineral Production and Directory of Mineral Producers For 1930, California State Mining Bureau Bulletin 105, 1931, 231 p.

Copyright 2014 Dan Mosier

Contact Dan Mosier at danmosier@earthlink.net.