Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Homemade Cafe

Andrea's folks came up for a visit this past weekend and it was a chance to try out the HOMEMADE CAFE on Sacramento St. Andrea and I usually pass by it on the way to Urban Ore and often thought it looked like a nice play to eat breakfast some time.

There is no parking there so we had to park around the corner. On the way, we passed a yard sale. Most of the past yard sales we've been to have been very uninteresting with mostly clothes and kid stuff for sale. However, I noticed a nice big terra cotta planter and scooped it up for $3. The seller was explaining that she had lots of things for sale but I didn't want my in-laws to wait for me to go eat breakfast. As I walked away, the seller said, "Oh, and I have some very nice vintage bricks in the backyard for sale too." A gong went off in my head and I said I'll be back to check that out.

Turns out the Homemade Cafe is about a 30 minute wait so I scampered back to the yard sale and purchased a treasure trove of vintage bricks for $20, most were in full length pieces.

As you know from my previous posting, I thought about flagstone for the patio but these bricks looked very charming and she said she got them from an old train station that was demolished in Oakland.

The day after Andrea's folks left I picked up the bricks and began to layer the new patio with them. Along the way, I discover some interesting details about the bricks.

The one marked IONE is a firebrick from the Ione Fire company. It's one of their earliest fire bricks. This brick was made using the extruded stiff-mud process, wire-cut, and repressed. Our brick was probably made from 1907 to 1908 as a test brick hence the "Pat. Applied For" stamp.

A few other bricks have the word CARNEGIE stamped on it. Andrea asked if that had anything to do with Carnegie Hall and, as it turns out, it does!

When steel magnate Andrew Carnegie began donating part of his fortunes to new libraries across the country, a new brick plant was being erected in Corral Hollow Canyon, about 10 miles southeast of Tracy, in San Joaquin County, California.

Two guys named Treadwell, decided to make bricks from a pocket of coal and clay later called the "Tesla Formation" of Eocene Age (50 million years old).

On August 18, 1903, the Carnegie Brick and Pottery Company was founded with the name that honored the great industrialist and philanthropist who was greatly admired by the Treadwells.

The rest of the bricks are a mish-mash of bricks found on our property coupled with this new trove. There are different shades of red, orange, yellow and white scattered about to give it more character.

I know I mentioned we might put ground cover in between the bricks but further research told me that sand would be the best (and cheapest) way to fill around the bricks.

This project took about 4 days, a lot of leveling and patting down soil, 3 pieces of landscape lumber to frame and $20 in vintage bricks and $3 in sand.

My hands hurt though. lol

What do you think?


  1. The brick patio looks great! I love that you were able to find out some history about them.

  2. Thanks minnie. You never know where a DIY project will take your mind (and body) to. I learned more about bricks than one should so now I walk around and look at other bricks and can guess what kind, where they are from etc. My wife now calls me a "Brick Snob". lol