California brick
CALIFORNIA BRICKS


Western Brick Company Plant No. 2, Santa Monica

History


Advertisement of the Western Brick Company. From Southwest Builder and Contractor, 1922.
Advertisement from Southwest Builder and Contractor, 1922.

In 1921, the Western Brick Company was incorporated in Los Angeles with a capital stock of $50,000. The directors were Gus A. Wild, Mary H. Wild, August Fischer, J.J. Lagomarsine, and L.F. Schulze, all of Los Angeles. The company office was located at 126 West Third Street in the Lankershim Building in Los Angeles. This company owned three brickyards in Los Angeles County. The first brickyard was located in Chavez Ravine where the Dodger Stadium stands today. The other two yards were in Santa Monica and Long Beach. This article is about the Santa Monica brickyard, which was located at 2630 Colorado Avenue, at the northwest corner with 26th Street. Gus Wild was the manager at the Santa Monica yard.

Advertisement of the Western Brick Company. From the Santa Monica Outlook, 1924.
Advertisement from the Santa Monica Outlook, 1924.

In 1923, the Western Brick Company opened the Santa Monica brickyard, which they called Plant No. 2, on the northeast corner of Colorado Avenue and 26th Street, Santa Monica. The property was on the same clay deposits worked by other brick companies nearby, such as Simons Brick Company and the Los Angeles Pressed Brick Company. The clay was a flat-lying brown sandy clay beneath a foot of overburden, which had to be removed from the pit. Description of the brick plant was brief. From the known brick, this plant produced common building brick and hollow tile blocks. Bricks were made using a wooden mold holding six bricks each. The plant had a capacity of 25 million brick per year. The brick were fired in open field kilns, fired either by gas or oil.

View of the Western Brick Company plant, Santa Monica. Photo courtesy of Josh Higgins.
View of the Western Brick Company plant, Santa Monica. Photo courtesy of Josh Higgins.

One out of six bricks was impressed with the company name WESTERN inside a rectangular frog on the face of the brick. The brick from this yard is distinguished from those from the Western Brick Company's other yards by the better quality of hard brick and the clay material, which contains mostly quartz and granitic rocks. The brick was shipped throughout Los Angeles County, but mostly served the Santa Monica area. The advertisement indicates that many were used in the homes in the Santa Monica area. The example shown below is one from a home in the nearby Pacific Palisades.

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 became president of the new company. The Consolidated Brick and Tile Company probably closed the Western Brick Company yard in Santa Monica, based on no reports of activity from the yard after that date. The Western Brick Company remained until about 1936, when it was dissolved. In 1937, Pacific Brick Company and, in 1944, Higgins Brick and Tile Company, continued to manufacture brick on the property. The site has been filled in and developed by modern industrial business buildings.

See a movie of the Western Brick Company brickyard uploaded by Josh Higgins on YouTube.com at the following links:

Higgins Brick Santa Monica Plant Purchase

Western Brick

Western common brick is pale red to orange-red and uniform in color. The form is good with slightly undulating sides. The edges and corners are dull. The sides are smooth and show faint transverse striations, minor pits, and 1/8-inch lip around the top edges. The top face is rough and pitted with a longitudinal strike. A few quartz clasts are visible on the surface. The bottom face is flat and the marked face has a rectangular frog with beveled sides that is 6 1/2 inches in length and 1 7/8 inches in width. Centered in the bottom of the frog are the raised block letters WESTERN in a thin rounded form, that spans 6 inches and stand 1 inch tall. The interior contains about 10 percent subangular white quartz or granite, less than 1/2 inch in diameter, in a porous orange-red sandy clay body. The presence of quartz and granite are important in distinguishing this brick from the bricks made by this company at the others yards. This brick was made using the soft-mud process. Length 8 1/2, width 4, height 2 1/4 inches.

View of the marked face of the Western common brick.
View of the marked face of the Western common brick. Donated by Betty Thrower.

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.
View of a quartz exposed at the surface of the Western common brick.

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

References

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

Dietrich, Waldemar F., The Clay Resources and the Ceramic Industry of California, California State Mining Bureau Bulletin 99, 1928, p. 122-123.

Higgins, Josh, written communications, 2014.

Los Angeles City Directories, 1921-1930.

Santa Monica City Directories, 1923-1936.

Santa Monica Outlook, November 15, 1924.

Southwest Builder and Contractor, v. 59, no. 27, July 7, 1922, p. 47.

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

Thrower, Betty, personal communications, 1985.

Copyright 2014 Dan Mosier

Contact Dan Mosier at danmosier@earthlink.net.