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Metropolitan Paving Brick Company - Bessemer PA

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The brick works in Bessemer had its beginnings with the Bessemer Limestone Company (BELCO), a limestone mining operation organized in 1887. Large amounts of brick-quality clay was found so the company decided to open a ‘face brick’ plant in 1901 and then a massive ‘paving brick’ plant in 1907. In 1917 these two plants, located along Poland Avenue, were sold to the Metropolitan Paving Brick Company of Canton, OH, which was the nation’s largest brick manufacturing company. (c1915) Full Size


After Metro Brick acquired the plants in Bessemer they immediately set about expanding operations. The company also built a host of homes near the plants for their employees, most of which were Italian or Yugoslavian immigrants. The sprawling 61-acre operation was up to full capacity by late 1921 and over 250 employees were turning out 200,000 paving bricks per day. Part of its paving brick operation included one of the largest brick-making kilns in the world, a massive structure which is partially shown above. (c1918) Full Size

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Comment

  1. Jeff, I just came across your website and what a pleasant surprise to find a photograph of the Bessemer elementary school where I attended grades 1 through 5 in the late 1950s and early 1960s. We moved to Bessemer in 1957 when my dad became superintendent of the Metropolitan Brick plant. Sadly, we moved from Bessemer in 1964 after the plant closed. Last year Tim Wilcox inquired about the history of the brick plant; I have some historical informaton and photographs. Much information can be found in Bessemer’s 50th year Golden Jubilee publication titled “Highlights 1963”. If you have Tim’s email address, I can send him information and try to answer questions he may have.
    Again, thanks for a superb website of Lawrence County.

    John Oneacre · 03/30/2013 10:48 PM · #

  2. I worked at this plant during school summers in the late 40’s and early 50’s. My dad was employed as a brick wheeler, starting in the mid-20’s, upon his entrance into America from Italy. The plant was primitive; firemen shoveling coal to heat the kilns, individuals (primarily women) filling carts with the green bricks, men properly stacking the green brick in the kilns and brick wheelers removing the brick, by hand, and loading into rail cars or trucks. The kilns were about a mile long. One of the summers, I was the water-boy carrying two buckets of water to each of the working kilns on a rotational basis. Each kiln location would have several workers. I would empty the old water and replace with the new water. Each of their vessels had a dipper for use by all the localized workers. I’ll never forget, with fond memory,
    on the initial delivery to a particular kiln, wishing a little Italian immigrant “good morning Tony” and he would respond, with an Italian accent, “go to hell, will you”.
    Fond Memories,
    Al Spizzo

    Al Spizzo · 10/04/2017 03:09 PM · #