Several Brick Manufacturing Companies Once Operated in Provo
Colonists erected the first adobe homes in Provo in 1851. As time passed, builders yearned for a more durable brick. In 1864, Philander Colton manufactured the first kiln of fired brick, and brick gradually replaced adobe as the building material of choice.
Ten years later, in 1874, William Allen purchased an acre of land, erected two mills to grind and mix materials, hired ten men, and went into the brick manufacturing business on a large scale. Others, including John Beesley, Nels Tiffany, Halma Smith, George Jacques, and William D. Roberts, soon followed his example.
Thomas Cook was one of Provo’s most important brick manufacturers of the 1880s. Cook moved his brick works as he used up the clay. All three of his brick plants lay along the road between Provo and Springville. Cook and his various partners furnished bricks for the main building at the Utah State Hospital, the Provo Tabernacle, the Old Utah County Courthouse, the smokestack of the Provo Woolen Mills, and many of the city’s older brick homes.
Cook, Liddiard & Company made travel on the Springville road dangerous in 1889 when it set up a steam powered engine for mechanically pressing brick right next to the much-traveled thoroughfare. The machine spooked most of the horses that went past it.
After a runaway in which an elderly woman and her son were thrown from their carriage when the machine caused the horse to stampede, the public lodged a growing number of complaints. Cook & Liddiard built a tall board fence around the brick press. This screened the machine from the view of the horses. Safe travel resumed.
In 1903, six Provo men incorporated the Provo Pressed Brick Company which leased land north of Provo and built a modern, water powered plant near the railroad tracks that once ran up 200 West. This company operated well into the 20th century.