The days of the Gold Rush had long passed when the earth yielded yet another treasure. This time in the form of "potter's clay" in Lincoln, California. In the fall of 1874 Charles Gladding of Chicago was visiting California when he read the news of the clay find. He traveled to Lincoln, took samples of the clay and sent them back to Chicago for testing by ceramic experts. The results surpassed his expectations.
The clay proved to be of excellent quality and was in abundant supply. On May 12, 1875, along with new partners Peter McGill McBean and George Chambers, Charles Gladding returned to Lincoln with a group of skilled craftsmen and Gladding, McBean and Co was born. Soon Gladding, McBean began shipping clay sewer pipe to towns throughout the state of California.
In 1884, the company built a two-story office building on Market Street in San Francisco, using terra cotta trim made at the Lincoln plant. The building attracted a lot of attention and in the ensuing years Gladding, McBean and Co became a leader in producing architectural terra cotta facades for some of the most significant historical landmarks in the world.
By the early 1890's the company had expanded its line to include fire brick, roof tile, chimney pipes and ornamental garden pottery. An early clay roof tile project was Stanford University, one of the countries most prestigious and architecturally stunning campuses. To this day Gladding continues to provide its signature clay tile to Stanford University for any campus additions, as well as residential and commercial buildings worldwide.
Gladding, McBean and Co. operated until 1962, when it merged with Lock Joint Pipe Co. and formed what was known as Interpace Corporation. However, in 1976 Interpace announced their intention to cease operations at the Lincoln plant. After so many years, no one ever expected to lose "the Pottery". At this crucial time, Pacific Coast Building Products emerged to purchase the company and restore the famous name of Gladding, McBean.
Today the plant is thriving, with proven clay reserves assuring operations for decades to come. Gladding has combined the old world craftsmanship with new technology such as laser scanning and sophisticated computer-aided design to provide customers with infinite creative possibilities.
We are proud of our contributions to American Architecture. The State of California Library now houses over 6,500 of our late 19th and early 20th century job files which include correspondence as well as photographs of some of our most significant work.