Wednesday, November 17, 2004

The Brick Factory



Alright, as I mentioned last post, we're moving across the Savannah River and into North Augusta, SC. In this case, we're crossing the 13th St. bridge, then heading a bit west into what is now forest. Here, tucked away amidst the trees and vines, is an old brick factory. I've tried to figure out just WHAT brick factory this was, but I can find no mention of it anywhere. No, not even on Google.

Georgia had statewide prohibition from 1908-1935, a span much longer than federal prohibition, which lasted from 1920-1933. So, South Carolina decided to meet the demand, in spite of some serious protest by the Temperance Movement, by building a package store, which could sell alcohol, just below the 13th St. bridge. As a result, the area under the bridge, just before you come to the brick factory, had a reputation for being somewhat unsavory. Even worse were the streetcars that passed by, often filled with drunk men. The women of the area stayed off the cars at certain times and days to avoid harrassment. In addition, every day, hundreds of people walked across the bridge, some for work, some for alcohol. It's amazing to imagine; there's nothing below the bridge now and hardly anyone crossing over. It's desolate.

The package store operated for a long time, decades after Georgia repealed the prohibition laws. The building itself survived until relatively recently. About a decade or so ago, I believe, it burned down, the result of arson. Yes, you're absolutely right if you think that annoys me. I would've loved to have gotten into it. All that remains now is some cement flooring. However, it won't be long before even that is gone. They've got big plans for the area. This is a photo of the largest of the buildings in the factory complex.



Even the ruins of this old brick factory are not long for the world. The city of North Augusta has broken ground on a massive development that will consume most of the woodland west of the bridge, all the way up to the river bank. There's going to be residential development, paved streets, apartment complexes, and even a huge convention center. Check out these drawings. Sure, I prefer it the way it is, but I don't think my bad attitude is the only reason the word "failure" springs so quickly to mind. Um, folks, Charleston is a bit farther east.



One of the most unsettling things you find around abandoned buildings (and also train tracks, deserted parking lots, river banks, etc.) are women's shoes. They're usually high-heels or something dressy and often in much better condition than the surrounding debris. They're shockingly ubiquitous and it simply can't be good. In this instance, it appeared that a woman had lived in one of the smaller buildings in the complex. Judging by some of the other items left around it's possible she was a prostitute. I simply can't imagine that she brought customers to the factory. But I can say that most people would lose their minds if they had to spend a single night out here. Brutal. Did I mention that we're no longer doing the family-oriented posts?



This kiln above actually not part of the larger brick factory complex, but some distance away. It was probably part of another factory altogether. I wish someone had written the history of Augusta's brick factories so I'd know what some of this was. In any case, there were many brick factories in the area because of the nice red clay. There are also remnant clay pits nearby, all soon to be filled-in for parking lots or whatever. I may post some photos of those later.



So, that's probably the most comprehensive overview of the area's remaining brick factories that you're going to find. Not much, eh? If anyone knows anything more, please contact me. Actually, if anyone ever knows anything more about any of the things I'm posting, don't hesitate to leave a comment. I'd love to hear about it.

2013 UPDATE: During my return to the Central Savannah River Area in 2012 for the Augusta Photography Festival I was told that this brick factory may have gone by the name Hankinson and Haugh Bricks. Also, it would seem this entire area is now in serious jeopardy. Not from the massive Hammond's Ferry Development, which for some reason hasn't encroached yet, but from a minor league baseball stadium that looks like it would be put right on top of the brick factory (and maybe on top of the very nice Brick Pond Park, too). Sorry, I just can't get behind it.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi, I ran across your blog after I moved to North Augusta. I was lucky to find the old kiln you posted a few pictures up. I found many old bricks, and many foundations spread far out. Thanks for the photos and history.

Jmhouse said...

So the kiln is still there? I'm surprised--and pleased--to hear that. Is the factory still there, too? I know much of that area has been developed now.

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

Best,

John

Anonymous said...

Hey! I live charleston SC and found something similar to what you posted. I found a bunch of bricks and a foundation of bricks on a marsh bank. Me and my friends think it was an old brick factory but can't find any info about. Were still not sure as to what it was.

Jmhouse said...

Cool! I'm sure there's lots of old brick factories in Charleston. I really love Charleston--beautiful city--although it can get HUMID!

Thanks for your comment!

John

Julianna said...

Hi, don't know how old this is but I stumbled unto this in the woods when my boyfriend and I were exploring the area. My friend just moved into one of the townhouses over there. Couldn't figure out what it was at first but it looks like everything that you posted pictures of is still there! We also found a structure that looked like a long semi-underground tunnel that we were curious as to what it was, maybe we were on the other side of the kiln? And also we were wondering what that tiny little house with the fireplace would have been used for, if it was a house or an office? I couldn't find any information on the name of the factory either :(

jmhouse said...

Hi Julianna,

The photos with this post are all about 6-7 years old, but I was back in N. Augusta last year and was surprised that the brick factory was still there. It was supposed to be torn down a few years ago, but I guess the Hammond's Ferry development has slowed a bit and thus the factory has been spared. At least for awhile.

Anyway, an historian named Bill Baab wrote this little bit in a longer article on Augusta bricks:

"It’s not certain who manufactured the PEERLESS / AUGUSTA, GA. brick, which was used in building construction. Given that many were found on the South Carolina side below North Augusta’s new Hammond’s Ferry project, researchers opine that they were made by the Hankinson Brick Company during the early 1900s. Their brickyard was located in the bottomlands."

I think most of the PEERLESS / AUGUSTA, GA. bricks have been scavenged from that site, but you might find a few still. In any case, I believe this is the location Mr. Baab was speaking of and that would make the buildings part of the Hankinson Brick Company.

As for the tunnels, I think they were used for heating and/or cooling of the bricks. But the little house with the fireplace is a mystery to me, as well.

Thanks for the comment!

JM

Donna said...

i was looking for info on augusta brick...i have one brick, was told it was used to pave some of the city streets here in jacksonville, fl. we use it for a door stop...think we will keep it.
thanks for the info.

jmhouse said...

Jacksonville is known to be where lots of Augusta bricks ended up. There are a few articles on-line, such as THIS ONE on the "Old Brick Roads of Florida." Bill Baab, an historian from Augusta, wrote a long piece on Augusta bricks, but, unfortunately, it's not on-line. I could e-mail it to you if you wish though.

Thanks very much for your comment. I've got an Augusta brick myself...

JM

Jax Brick Guy said...

I would love to read up on the Augusta bricks if you still have the email? I ran into a gentleman here in jax who is selling me....at a unbelievably low price, about 2000 Augusta bricks. I don't think he knows what a gold mine he is sitting on. My wife and I are elated to be getting such a great find for so cheap. We are talking....cheaaappp!. I loved your article. I'm totally hooked on reading up on the history of Jacksonville's brick roads.

Thanks,

A happy guy in Florida

jmhouse said...

Hello Jax Brick Guy,

Thanks for your message! It sounds like you got a great deal on more than a ton of historic bricks! Very cool. I'd be happy to e-mail the article on Augusta bricks to you, but I didn't see an address associated with your profile. You can either leave a message here with your contact info or contact me directly through the e-mail address on my profile.

Thanks again and enjoy those bricks! I've only got one myself...

JM