Courthouses, Churches, and Depots

I took a swing through portions of Brick Zone 5 (central Minnesota) several weeks ago and had an interesting time.  I started out near Fairfax, Minnesota, looking for old brick buildings.  Fairfax is like many small Minnesota towns, where main street is suffering.  Most of the old brick buildings in town are located there, and many of them are vacant.  There is some hint at progress, with a new bank under construction.  There is an old historic brick church building as well, but I am unsure where the brick came from.  The original Fairfax depot has been well cared for and stands along the railroad tracks. Continue reading

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In Search of Northwest Minnesota Bricks

I am excited to start chasing some of those elusive Minnesota bricks again now that milder weather has come again.  I took a trip to Crookston, Minnesota, to look around what remains of Crookston bricks.  Amazingly, this community still holds many of its old ties to the past.  I would highly recommend a trip over to Crookston if you are looking to see what old buildings used to look like.  You can also poke around antique stores looking for old gems.  There are a couple of them in old historical buildings in the downtown area.  If you look carefully, you can find old signs painted on the sides of some buildings and original hardware still on some of them.  What a treat!  I took my webmaster along for the ride, and we both enjoyed looking around town. Continue reading

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Grouping Together

What happened to all the old Minnesota brick makers?  With greater numbers of people moving into the state, there would always be a need for brick, right?  Yet, in the early 1900s, there were hints that the industry was already hurting.  To find the answers to these questions, I have sought out some of the discussion topics from the Minnesota Clay-Brick Manufacturers’ Association meetings. Continue reading

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New Updates

The process of adding additional historical Minnesota brickyard locations to this web site is really coming along nicely.  I saw one source claim that nearly every growing frontier town in the state of Minnesota had a brickyard at some point.  I can tell you without a doubt that this statement is an exaggeration.  However, there were a lot.  And there were different time periods involved.  Minnesota was settled from east to west, so the eastern portions of the state had some of the first brickyards.  In addition, some brickyards only lasted a few years before closing. Continue reading

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Welcome To 2010

Welcome to 2010!  This web site devoted to historical Minnesota bricks has high hopes for the New Year.  How about a peak into the future?  We are still planning on adding a graphic from the early 1900s that shows where all the old brickyards were.  This is not an all encompassing graphic though, some towns only had brickyards for several years before they closed.  The early 1900s graphic only shows brickyards in existence when the graphic was made.  So like many things, it has its limitations.  However, it is a good piece in the brick-making puzzle. Continue reading

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Latest Minnesota Brick News

Merry Christmas from the Minnesota Brick web team…Vince and Andy!  We are looking forward to the future, as we have big plans to add new Minnesota brick information as we come across it.  The more you dig into this historical aspect of Minnesota, the more surprises you find.  Just this week, I was looking through a book called Little Sketches of Big Folks Minnesota 1907.  I searched this book for people associated with bricks, and was amazed that it turned up around 30 people!  I knew that brickmaking was a huge industry in Minnesota around the turn of the century, but did not know how many influential Minnesotans were associated with it.  Many of the owners of the old brickyards branched out into other fields with their new wealth, and became store owners or bank owners. Continue reading

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Winter Arrives

Welcome to December!  In the world of historic Minnesota brick making, all the brickyards would probably be closed down now for the winter months.  They would probably continue to sell any remaining bricks from the summer’s batch, but brick making was a seasonal job.  With the approach of winter, the construction season was also winding down.  There may have been a few jobs yet to finish, but probably not too many.  I doubt any of the old bricklayers had the comforts that those today have, like the protection from the elements that a good plastic wrap enclosure and heat provide.  Those were tough old folks. Continue reading

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Identifying Old Minnesota Bricks

Many of the resources I have come across say that nearly every fledgling Minnesota town in the late 1800s had a brickyard.  If you come across an old brick structure in the state and want to know more about it (like where the bricks came from), where do you start?  Good question…. but no easy answer. Continue reading

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Thoughts For Today

I will be starting a new feature this month, called “Brick Structure of the Month.”  In this section, I will detail a special Minnesota (or possibly a bordering state, as I know some of the Minnesota bricks went to other states too) brick structure(s) that either I have visited and photographed OR someone else submits to me.  That way, I can add some text to some of the photographs I have or some commentary to some of the new sites I visit.  Over the Halloween 2009 weekend, I visited the Gehl-Mittelsted homestead along the Minnesota River near Carver, Minnesota.  What a beautiful and historic site!  Read more about it in the new Brick Structure of the Month section. Continue reading

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Post #2

This new web site is up and running, thanks to my great webmaster! Be patient though, this is a slow process. Even so, we have already made some strides. We are starting with the five types of Minnesota bricks that we know the most about, which are Shakopee, Chaska, New Ulm, Lake Mary, and Springfield. I do not claim to be a Minnesota brick expert, but I love the old brick structures (farm houses, barns, silos, etc.) which still dot the Minnesota landscape. I know these structures are becoming less common, so I would like to help preserve some of them in some way. This web site is my best idea to accomplish that task. In my travels around Minnesota, I have seen all the five types of brick. I really do not have a favorite, but like the entire concept of these old bricks – I like history, I like farming, and I like old brick buildings. In the near future, I would like to provide some of the pictures, articles, and information I have about each of these Minnesota bricks. I own at least one of each of the bricks, four of them have names printed on them. Continue reading

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