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Livermore History - Brickyard

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The Livermore Firebrick Company

The Livermore Firebrick Company was located at what is now appropriately called the Brickyard shopping center (North side of Stanley, across from Valley Memorial Hospital).  It was in operation off and on from 1910 through 1949.  Bricks from this facility were used in as diverse places as the Philippines and Hawaii, as well as locally.  Bricks were marked as Livermore, Star, Premier, and W.S. Dickey, who's company was one of the owners.

Three of the bricks can be found in the walkways of the Carnegie Building.  They can also be found in the building to the west of the fountain at 1st and Livermore.  V&G Muffler (SW corner of First & Livermore) is built with Livermore bricks.

The Brick Factory can also be seen on an Aerial Photo.

See the History of the Livermore Fire Brick Company at the bottom of this page.

Some additional information can be found at this web site: Livermore Fire Brick Company

The Livermore Heritage Guild has a book on Livermore brick making.  See the Publication List


Looking North East across a stack of the finished product.


Livermore Fire Brick Company, looking south.

 


Livermore Fire Brick Company, looking west.  The Southern Pacific tracks and Stanley Blvd are to the left.  The Western Pacific tracks are to the right.  Oakknoll Pioneer Memorial Park is the mound to the left of Stanley Blvd (in the distance, between the smokestack & rail cars).


Looking north east from the around the SP tracks prior to 1929


Before 1929.  Looking south west.


Looking north at about 1937.

 
These pictures were taken in a yard in Livermore in October 2002.  STAR and PREMIER were two brands from the Livermore Fire Brick factory.  The Stockton brick (far right side vertical brick) is not, although the Stockton Fire Brick Company did own the Livermore plant for a time.  The bottom brick is GASCO, made in Pittsburg, CA.
These two pictures by eLivermore.com

 

History of the Livermore Fire Brick Company
by Gary Drummond
Used by permission

In the summer of 1908, a group of local businessmen discussed a proposition to establish Livermore's first non-agricultural industry - a firebrick and terra cotta plant.  The proposal was contingent on a donation of five acres to the company on the west side of town between the Southern Pacific and Western Pacific railroad tracks.  The company promised that no cottages, bunk-houses or company store would be maintained so that employees would be obliged to live and trade in town.

At a second meeting, the businessmen felt it expedient to have additional property, and placed an option on an adjoining ten acres.  To purchase the tract, each businessman subscribed a varying amount of money, committing a total of $2650, and the developers of the fire-brick plant, seeing the earnestness of the community, offered to pay $1000 for the five acres of the proposed location.  The question was then asked, "Why not use the remainder of the 'Earthquake Fund' for the community's share of the land purchase?"  And the Town Trustees concurred.  They agreed to give the fire-brick company a deed to the ten acres on which the plant was to be located when the works had been in continuous operation for one year, and it was to revert to the town if it was ever used for other than manufacturing.

The Livermore Fire Brick Company began its operations in 1910, using clay from Ione, pending the development of a local clay deposit.  The Livermore Herald call it "the beginning of an industry which is destined to wax with the passing years until Livermore is the center of the clay manufacturing industry of the State."  The first carload of brick was shipped to Sacramento.  In 1911, the brick works was shipping its product to Matzatlan, Mexico, to Agnew Hardware in Everett, Washington, and to Theo Davis and Co., Honolulu.

In 1914 the Livermore Fire Brick Company began experimenting with brick made of diatomaceous earth.  Although the same size as a conventional brick, it weighed but one-fifth as much.  It was used as lining in large commercial refrigerators, such as in breweries and meat markets, taking the place of cork which was becoming scarcer and more expensive every year.

A source of fire brick clay was never found locally.  Operations became intermittent, based on demand.  When business was good, the plant employed between 30 and 40 men.  And in these times, large shipments were made: 40,000 fire brick went to the Philippines in June, 1932, 32,000 more in July, and another 30,000 the next month, along with 10,000 fire tiles consigned to Hilo, Hawaii.  Meantime, the plant went through several hands.  It was rumored that the facility would be dismantled in 1936 while it was being managed by the W.S. Dickey Clay Manufacturing Company.  Instead, it was sold to the Stockton Fire Brick Company, and later purchased by Gladding, McBean and Company.

The end of Livermore's first non-agricultural industry came in the spring of 1949 when the fire-brick plant was finally closed down permanently.

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Photo of Early Livermore Cover Page The Book
Early Livermore
contains 128 pages of Livermore Historical photos and commentary.
It is available for 19.99 plus tax at the
Livermore Heritage Guild History Center at the Carnegie Building.
Click here for more information

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