From: The Clayworking Plants of St. Louis

May, 1904, p. 221.


The plant of the Missouri Fire Brick Co. was erected in 1882 and is located on the corner of Knox and New Manchester Aves., between the Missouri Pacific and the St. Louis and San Francisco railroads. The switches which extend into the grounds of the works permit of exceptionally fine facilities for connecting with all the railroads entering St. Louis, and thus delivering goods to all parts of the United States without breaking bulk. The works were destroyed by fire in November, 1899, and were immediately rebuilt. The buildings are all of brick, three stories high, with the exception of the large addition which was made during the past year, which is frame. The lower floor of this building is all open and high enough for teams to drive under. This serves as a storage for clay, and a large supply of dry clay is always kept on this dump. It immediately adjoins the different dry and wet pans, being at the machinery end of the factory. The dump is large enough for storing over 5,000 tons of clay, and about this quantity is constantly being weathered.

The retort department is in an additional building adjoining the plant on the northeast end. It is fitted with the most modern machinery for manufacturing retorts, and has a drying floor capacity for handling 300 retorts. Eight retorts a day can be manufactured and finished completely, equal to about 2,400 retorts per year. The floor is divided into three sections, each having separate heating flues, so that the temperature can be applied as required and according to the condition of the ware. The machinery is all of the latest and best character and of a capacity sufficient for the requirements of the plant. A Corliss engine built by the Twin City Iron Works, of Minneapolis, was put in about three years ago. Also a 4-mold Berg dry press was put in a little over a year ago, making 20,000 brick daily. In addition to this, large quantities of handmade square and shaped bricks are turned out. The principal output of the works consist of firec!ay gas retorts, water gas cupola linings, furnace and locomotive tiles, fire brick, etc. The very highest grade of material is made for the various kinds of gas furnaces, and the company has been successful in maintaining a high standard for this class of goods. The utmost care and skill is used in the retort department to make the very best article that can be manufactured, and the St. Louis retorts rank as the best in the country.

There are six round down-draft kilns, 25 ft. in diameter, of 45,000 brick capacity each, and one square round down-draft kiln, 25X40 ft. and of 75,000 brick capacity. The kilns are unloaded by barrows and conveyed to stock sheds on railroad cars as desired.

The officers of the company are as follows: John Dell, president and general manage (Mr. Dell has been connected with the fireclay industry of this city for thirty years) ; John B. Holman, vice-president; Jos. F. Walsh, secretary and treasurer. The city offices are located at No. 411 Olive St., in the Continental Batik Building.

The company ships the retorts and other fireclay products to many points in Canada and to almost every state in the Union. A specialty is made of construction work, and the company has a large force of masons, well instructed in their line of work, constantly in its errploy. The company designs its own plans for gas benches and furnaces and completely erects them in gas works ready to fire up and operate.

The superintendent of the Missouri Fire Brick Works is Geo. E. Thomas, who has been identified with the fire brick industry in St. Louis for about fourteen years, and thoroughly understands the manipulation and manufacture of all kinds of fireclav goods. No sewer pipe or other material of this class is manufactured by this company.

Turning eastward from this plant, in the distance on the south side of the road we can see the office structure and works of the Laclede Fire Brick Co. It is just as well to take a car to this plant, as the walk is a long one on a hot and dusty day and there will be plenty of walking around the three plants to satisfy the most ardent pedestrian


Bibliography Oral history Recorded history Photos
YOUR page External links Walking Tour

Bob Corbett bcorbett@netcom.com