If you are travelling through the Winsted, Minnesota, area, you are bound to come across some old red-orange looking brick structures. They are made of brick from the Lake Mary brickyard, which was run by Andrew Hanson. According to the Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal newspaper article written by Patrice Waldron, the brickyard was in operation from 1882-1917. The Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal was kind enough to let us post Patrice Waldron’s article on this web site. If you have not read it, you can easily find it under the “Lake Mary” section of this web site. If you have not seen a Lake Mary brick, you can also find a picture of one under this same section.
I made a sweep around the Lake Mary area in the summer of 2004, looking for remnants of the Lake Mary brickyard. I got interested after finding Patrice Waldron’s article on the internet. I have seen a lot of brick structures with lighter colors, like the famous Chaska bricks, but not a lot of red-orange ones. In some regards, the Lake Mary bricks look close to the Shakopee brick color, but they are not an exact match either. Lake Mary bricks are very distinctive, and very beautiful.
Lake Mary bricks were not made in a town, but on a lake near a town. Lake Mary is a few miles north-northeast of Winsted, Minnesota. Around the actual lake, roads are few and far between. If you get on the road that goes right around the north side of Lake Mary, you are on the right one. As you get on the east side of the lake, there is a sign that says “Winsted Sportsmen’s Club.” This is apparently where the old brickyard was located. Most of the area is fenced off, so I did not go exploring. There are obviously no buildings left from that time period.
Driving back the way I came, there were evidences of Lake Mary brick all around. Some cabins on the lake had brick driveway markers made of Lake Mary brick. I also found an old barn that was being torn down that was made of Lake Mary brick. The owner of the site was tearing down the barn carefully brick by brick. I stopped as there were some extra bricks lying around and I hoped to get one. I went up to the house and knocked. The man came to the door and told me he had a buyer lined up, ready to buy any good bricks he could salvage from the barn. I asked if I could have one of the extras, and he said to go ahead and take one. WOW! That is the brick in the photograph on the Lake Mary section of this web site.
I then drove around some other roads in the vicinity of Lake Mary. If you look carefully, you can see some buildings still standing that were made of the red-orange Lake Mary brick. There are not many, but there are some. I then took a trek into Winsted, where there are also a few Lake Mary brick structures still standing. Of course, the main part of town, or the old downtown, is the most logical place to look. The old town hall is still standing and is a nice red-orange brick building. There is a picture of it on the next page.
I have an old postcard from Winsted, Minnesota, which shows the downtown area. This building also shows up on the left side of that postcard. Check it out.
Next, I drove around the southern fringe of Winsted and found the February 2010 brick structure of the month….the Lake Mary Farmhouse. It is shown below.
All I can say is wow, this is a neat old house. It is abandoned and in tough shape. The mortar is falling apart on some sides of the house. Some of the windows are cracked and the inside looks to be in tough shape. But what a house this must have been in its prime! I’ll bet it was made for someone with a fair amount of money, as its size is huge for its day. Look at the fancy brick work around the windows and the neat little window up near the peak. There are two chimneys which stick out of the roof, so there would have been two heat sources inside. It is hard to see, but there is a window to a basement, or some sort of cellar barely visible in the photograph. If you went straight down from the little window near the peak, there is a brick arch barely visible near ground level. So there was more space beneath the house too. You can also notice some neat brick work separating the first and second floors. Those old brick layers were pretty good! On the top of the house there are still some old lightning rods sticking up. You had to protect your investment, even in the old days.
I apologize for the lack of additional photographs of this house. I thought I had taken some more, but I can’t locate them. Even without them, you can still see this is a special structure.
Before I left the area, I drove back through town. It is hard to say which are Lake Mary brick structures and which aren’t (without doing some research), but I saw one home that looks like it may be made of Lake Mary brick. It is shown below.
Again, look at the brickwork on the front. Above most of the windows are elegant brick designs. There is also a brick design between the first and second stories. I can’t imagine how they used to do those designs, but it must have taken an expert. So if you have some extra time to do some brick exploring, these are some examples of what you might find.