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Gladding, McBean and Company. Archives : job order documents, 1888-1966
Collection Overview


Archives: job order documents, 1888-1966
Gladding, McBean and Company archives : 1888-1966: job order documents


Gladding, McBean and Company, creator


The Lincoln plant of Gladding McBean Company kept track of their terra-cotta product orders from ca. 1888 to ca. 1966 by assigning a job order number to each new order, with subsequent orders for the same job using the assigned number. Initially large ledgers were used to record each job order and the following information can be found in these ledgers: Order number, Project (usually a building), Location (usually city), Architect, Shipping address, Product description -- including name, size, color, quantity ordered, and often a sketch of the product.
Starting ca. 1897, the plant began keeping job order information in file folders which have now been transferred into archival boxes arranged by job order number. Usually there is an initial job order form with the following information: Building name, location, address, owner, architect, contractor, order specifications and shipping/financing information. Subsequent correspondence between the Lincoln Office and local branch offices tracks the completion of the order. Most of this correspondence is internal within the company but there is some correspondence directly with client companies for some job orders. In addition, some order folders include photographs of the product. Condition of the materials in the folder varies; some documents are illegible due to water damage or lack of archival care. Although reference is often made to architectural drawings, none are included in the folders nor are any included with other materials at the California State Library.
The California History Room of the California State Library has an in-house database which provides basic information for each of the job orders. Researchers should consult this database before requesting material from the collection in order to locate job order number(s) of interest. Search terms include: project name, city, state, country, architect and year the project began. The record will indicate what material is available and where it is located -- in a ledger book or a folder in a manuscript box or, in some cases, in both.


1888 (issued)


Gladding, McBean and Company -- Archives
Clay industries -- California -- Lincoln
Architectural terra-cotta -- California -- Lincoln
Decoration and ornament, Architectural -- California -- Lincoln
Architecture -- United States -- Details


While Charles Gladding was visiting San Francisco in 1874 he read a newspaper account mentioning the discovery of an unusually fine kaolin clay deposit near the town of Lincoln in Placer County. Seeing an opportunity to supply building products for the rapidly growing West Coast cities, he convinced fellow Chicagoans, Peter McBean and George Chambers, to invest in the development of the Lincoln clay pit into a manufacturing concern -- thus Gladding, McBean and Company was formed.
Charles Gladding and Peter McBean relocated to California -- Gladding was based in Lincoln and ran the operation there; McBean was in San Francisco where he took care of the business end of the company. The first carload of vitreous sewer pipe left the Lincoln factory in August of 1875 and by 1880 business was booming. In 1884 the company began to diversify into the manufacture of architectural terrra-cotta ornamentation and, in 1888, Joseph DeGolyer joined the firm to head up the Architectural Department devoted to this product. By 1900 the firm could list over 108 buildings using GMcB architectural terra cotta; nearly half were in San Francisco but cities throughout the Western United States were also represented.
After the 1906 earthquake and fire in San Francisco, the demand for terra cotta increased as fireproof materials became more desirable. Until the Depression of the 1930s put a damper on building activity, Gladding, McBean and Company enjoyed a preeminent position in the field of terra-cotta ornamentation and participated in many of the premier architectural projects in the country. The company had also developed other product lines over the years including roof tile, decorative tile, even dinnerware under the Franciscan label.
In 1962, Gladding, McBean merged with Lock Joint Pipe Co. of New Jersey to form Interpace. Later, in 1976, Pacific Coast Building Products purchased the Lincoln Plant and now operates it as a subsidiary under the original name. The plant once again produces both sewer pipe and architectural products, specializing in recreating some of the original architectural terra cotta pieces that were so instrumental in making the Gladding McBean reputation.
Donated by Pacific Coast Building Products.
Unrestricted. Please credit California State Library.
Gladding, McBean and Company archives : job order documents, 1888-1966


Design drawings

Physical Description:

16 v., 236 ms. boxes : ill.







Copyright Note:

Unrestricted. Please credit California State Library.