Saturday, May 14, 2016

Area Historic Brickyards

As a reminder of the key role the Tchefuncte River played in the industry and commercial trade of the late 19th and early 20th century, sometimes remnants of brickyards would be found while developers built riverside subdivisions. 

In 1973, such a brickyard was found in a section of Riverwood being constructed, and local historians tried to figure out which brickyard it was. While the St. Joe brickyard north of Slidell is still famous today, the many brickyards in the Covington area, several of which were responsible for providing the building materials for New Orleans, were for the most part closed down, abandoned and forgotten.

Click on the image below to view a larger version of the article. 

Article and photo by Ron Barthet

According to Mark Frosch Sr., a fellow by the name of Francois Cousin made bricks starting about 1778 on Bayou Liberty in the Slidell area on a 7 acres site. He made briquette entre potesux a new fashion that became wildly used in building in New Orleans.

In the excerpt below from page 108 of Steve Ellis' book on St. Tammany Parish history , this is what Judge Ellis had to say:

Apparently, at some point in the 1850's, a St. Tammany Parish brickyard was the only place in America that was making "fireproof bricks,"  quite an accomplishment since they were in considerable demand. From the 1912 Farmer newspaper, this article about brickmaking in the 1850's...

Alexius Abita River Brick & Tile Works



This is a brick from the Alexius brickyard on the Abita River. 


St. Joe Brick Works

Founded in 1891, and purchased in 1895 by Peter W. Schneider  when he acquired the small hand-operated plant, St. Joe Brick Works, Inc. has been under continuous operation for 120 years, and by the Schneiders for 116 years.  This plant located 40 miles north of New Orleans is the oldest family brick manufacturers east of the Mississippi River making colonial moulded face brick using wood moulds. 



The 1926 Charter of St. Joe Brick Works
To read the history of the St. Joe Brickyards in Slidell, CLICK HERE.

A display of various bricks at H.J. Smiths Sons General Merchandise Store Museum in Covington. 

Jessie R. Jones was one of the first purchasers of property in the new town of Wharton (Covington). He had come to Covington in 1813, where he achieved great success, both politically and financially.  He was a member of the first town council elected in Covington and served as the third parish judge of St. Tammany. He later became a district judge and a member of the state legislature. His brickyard was located on the Bogue Falaya River at the end of 7th Street.

Bricks from the J.R. Jones brickyard in Covington

A brick from Demourelle's brickyard south of Covington on the Tchefuncte River. 
Slidell also had its share of large brickyards. The Standard Brick and Clay Products Co. had it huge brick kiln operation right on Front Street. Here's a map from 1926.