Olive Through the Ages

Commerce: Brick Yard and Tile Company

Brick Yard & Tile Co. | First Natl. Bank of Olive | Olive Garage | Olive Hotel and Motel | Olive Mill

Harvey Garber and the first brick and tile companies in Olive

In 1921, Harvey Garber was described as being "one of the most aggressively progressive leaders in the [brick making] industry in Southern California, and a prominent business man of Santa Ana."

Born on March 28, 1879 in Bliss, Michigan, Harvey was the youngest of three children of Jacob M. Garber and the former Elizabeth ("Libbie") Schrock. He was raised on a farm, attended public schools in northern Indiana, and at the age of 21 became a carpenter.

On June 2, 1909, Harvey married Freda B. Kelley. The couple arrived in California on January 13, 1914, settling in the City of Orange. Having had five years' experience as a contractor in South Bend, Indiana, Harvey became a general contractor in Orange County where he led a number of public, commercial, and residential construction projects.

In August 1919, Harvey purchased a brick plant in Santa Ana where he began manufacturing all grades of brick. Early in 1922, Harvey moved his brick making business to Olive, at the corner of Santiago Blvd. (E. Lincoln Ave.) and N. Tustin St., where the daily production of manufactured bricks reportedly doubled from 20,000 to 40,000, according to the "Greater Olive Expansion Edition" of The Orange Post newspaper on April 27, 1922.

At the time of this report, Harvey had found the clay in the Olive yards to be "satisfactory" and hoped it would fire well so he could manufacture hollow building tile, which was an important line of his business. Harvey also speculated on the possibility of manufacturing "high grade building material such as glazed brick" at the Olive plant.

Though the brick yard was fully operating at the time the article was written, grading on the site had not yet been completed. The article mentioned an "office building of suitable size will be erected as soon as work at the new place is running smoothly, from which time on other improvements will rapidly follow."

H. Garber Brick Yards in Olive initially proved to be highly successful, and within the next two years Harvey opened the Padre Tile Company on the site where the second Olive Milling Company operated. This plant produced roofing, flooring, and decorative wall tiles. However, around 1925, financial difficulties found Harvey losing both businesses to Attorney Arthur Koepsel. A couple of years later, the brick yard was renamed Mission Clay Products Company and sold to Herbert Shugart. The Padre Tile Company was closed in 1930.

Harvey passed away on December 14, 1934 in Newhall and is buried in Fairhaven Memorial Park in Santa Ana.

My special thanks to Phil Brigandi for providing the article in The Orange Post and for writing his "Mission Clay Products, 1963" article which was published in Old Towne Orange Plaza Review; both sources give great insight into the history of the original brick yard in Olive.

- Daralee, January 2, 2017
(revised on May 21, 2017)

Sources: Samuel Armor, History of Orange County, California with Biographical Sketches, Orange County, CA: Historic Record Company, 1921, p. 1254; "Garber Brick Yard Removed to Olive, Capacity Doubled," The Orange Post, Greater Olive Expansion Edition, April 27, 1922, page 15; FindAGrave.com (accessed on January 2, 2017); "Mission Clay Products, 1963," by Phil Brigandi, Old Towne Orange Plaza Review, March / April 2017, page 35.


Mission Clay Products Company brick yard

Mission Clay Products Company prospered under the ownership of Herbert Shugart through the 1940s. The company made bricks, and roofing and flooring tiles, both by machine and hand, kiln-drying and air-drying these products. Additionally, "adoblar" commercial-grade adobe bricks were produced; these bricks were popular in Southern California for lending more authenticity to homes built in the Spanish-style architecture. In the 1950s, the company added clay pipe-making to their product line, and expanded their yard north of the original site.

The brick yard was still operating at the northwestern corner of Tustin and Lincoln when our family first moved to the area in the early 1960s. Though I was a young child at the time and can't recollect a lot of details about the site, I recall being fascinated by the large kilns on the property that would glow at night.

As with so many sites in Olive that have now vanished, I regret not having any personal photos of the brick yard during this era of my life before I learned how to handle a camera. However, on a visit to the Orange County Archives, assistant archivist Chris Jepsen produced two "new" 1967 black and white photos of the brick yard from the Archives' collection. And historian Gordon McClelland sent scanned images by artists Crandall Norton and Scott FitzGerald depicting historical scenes from the brick yard.

Despite the disappearance of the Mission Clay Products Company brick yard by 1968, there is still a reminder of this historic site on which operations were important to the construction of homes and commercial buildings in Southern California. A decade after the brick yard's closure, local developers Roger Hobbs and Alan Trider in partnership with Bruce Gelker of Olive opened The Brickyard shopping center on the site. This shopping center, with its name and its unique signs shaped like structures from the brick yard circa 1950, serve as remembrances of this once thriving business that began during the mid-1920s when Olive was known as "The Gateway to Santa Ana Canyon."

- Daralee, June 5, 2009
(revised on May 21, 2017)

Source: "Mission Clay Products, 1963," by Phil Brigandi, Old Towne Orange Plaza Review, March / April 2017, page 35.


Click/tap the link below to learn more about the history of Padre Tile Company and Mission Clay Products Company in Olive:

Sanborn Map, 1926 Historic Aerial Map Images and Photos

Aerial Map Illustrations and Photos - This page contains links to aerial map images of the Padre Tile Company and Mission Clay Products Company brick yard sites from 1926 to 1970, with some commentary.
Crandall Norton's brickyard, c.1950 Then and Now Photos and Artwork

Then and Now Images - This page contains links to then and now photos of Padre Tile Company and Mission Clay Products Company, as well as images of artwork depicting sights from the brick yard.
Olive ad, 1930 Mission Clay Products Company in the News

News and Articles - This page contains news advertisements and articles pertinent to Mission Clay Products Company from 1930 up to 1960. My thanks to Sherman Library and Gardens' Director Dr. William O. Hendricks and Archivist Jennifer Martinez Wormser for providing assistance in some of this research.
Mission Clay Products kiln, 1967 Notes and Remembrances of the Brick Yard

Stories about the Brick Yard - Historian Gordon McClelland shares his remembrances of the brick yard as a youth in the 1960s. Included on this page are some of my notes about adobe structures in Olive as well as links to images of these structures.

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