Medora Brick Plant Site

Medora, Indiana
Indiana 425 southwest of Medora in Jackson County

History        Photos        preservation        BrickMaking        People

A 1988-1991 photo taken from the grain-elevator across from plant.- Mark Hill

 

Thanksgiving meal inside a kiln at Medora brick plant ~ 1952
names - part of the Gray Photo Collection

 

 

brick building at Univ. of Kentucky
A brick campus building at University of Kentucky.  Could this be Medora brick chosen by the 'Hand of God' ?  See History & Stories
 

 

With the smoke stacks and kilns of the Medora Brick Plant in the background (right) this Sparksville Baltimore & Ohio Railroad section crew poses at the head of the brick plant spur. Supervisor at far left is believed to be Elmer Rudder who later (1914) was a supervisor at the plant. No date or names known for sure, but if you have information on this photo, please email info@medorabrickplant.org
photo credit - the Jackson County, Indiana, Digital History Archive Project
 

 


Kiln #3 today


 

Owner Joe Robertson (back row far right) poses with employees of the Medora Brick Plant circa 1926.  From the photo submitted by George L. Shepard of Seymour shared and run in The Banner in 1981.  
Larger photo and names
 

  

- February 1913 -

Thornton Heller, of the Jackson Brick and Hollow Ware Co. (Brownstown), and C.C. McMillan, of the Medora Shale Brick Co., sent by parcel post a brick each of local manufacture to be used in building a brick house at the coliseum, Chicago, during the Clay Products Exposition in March. These bricks will be among 25,000 sent by parcel post from every brick plant in the United States to be used in the construction of this house which will be given away and re-erected after the exposition.
Source - Jackson Co. Banner

Indiana Landmarks

 

Back in 1904

July 8, 1904 - formed stock co.
July 15, 1904 - signed articles of incorporation

Aug. 2, 1904  8:00am
recorded and officially organized as
"Medora Shale Brick Co."

_________________

PLANT HISTORY

A 50-man workforce once produced 54,000 handmade bricks a day at the Medora Brick Plant.  Founded in 1904 the company built initial components of a plant and began brick production with its first batch of paving bricks burned in March 1909. 

The company had chosen a parcel of land one mile outside city limits southwest of the small town of Medora.  The plant  was surrounded by hills containing a ready supply of material  for brick production. 

The B & O Railroad tracks at the edge of the plant complex carried Medora brick  to pave streets throughout the Midwest initially. 

In 1925 after financial troubles stemming from an economic slowdown prior to the Depression the plant went into bankruptcy.  It was then purchased at auction by the owners of Jackson Brick & Hollow Ware Co. of  Brownstown, Indiana.  Thereafter the Medora plant concentrated on wall brick for facing new buildings while the Brownstown company focused on drain tile.   Joseph Robertson served as President of both companies until about 1941.  After WWII James P. Heller became President. 

The plant operated between nine and ten months out of the year producing  standard and custom brick until it officially closed January 31, 1992.  Medora resident today, Bernard A. Gray worked the plant since 1946 and was Superintendent for the plant's last 24 years of operation.  His father Ralph was superintendent before him beginning in about 1935.  His brother Erridine served as the plant's salesman. Bernard Gray knows brick.  Especially Medora Brick!  Several interviews with Mr. Gray are included in this website along with photos from his personal collection as well as from others.

The company had over the years built a complex of 12 brick kilns with 7 tall square stacks complimenting  them.   The round, domed (beehive) kilns have  arched doors on two sides along with 10 small openings at the their base for feeding the kiln's fire.   A long, covered storage shed was constructed parallel with the rail siding.  A smaller shed sat in the middle of the complex.  Also still standing are a  horse barn with an employees changing and showering addition with accompanying 2-holer frame outhouse, a machine shop and power plant building , walls of another brick building and the small office.  The large frame shale processing &  brick forming building was dismantled after the plant ceased operation.  The mechanicals and equipment were taken to other brick plants in Indiana.

In 2004, the site was named to the 10 Most Endangered Landmarks  list by the Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana.  Eleven domed kilns remain with 5 stacks (the 'five sisters') along with four small buildings. 

The plant  site points to our proud industrial and local heritage with a special bow to the plant workers and their families.

Photo of kiln dome by Jim Walls of Bloomington, Ind.
Periodically disssembled and rebuilt.

See also nearby, the
Medora Covered Bridge
the longest existing historic
covered bridge in America

info

 

 

Christmas Auction

Hosted by the Medora Brick Plant and Historical Sites, Inc.
Saturday Nov. 17
Carr Township Conservation Club 4-9pm

A partial listing of items: Cornhole game, Mugs, Rugs, Dvd's, Hunting & Pocket knives, John Deere, Harley Davidson, Gloves, Mini Thermometers, Sox/Star Wars/Frozen, Erth Banks, Door Mats, Various Christmas items, Toys. Many more items.

Soups, hot dogs, chips, drinks and desserts will be served.

 

Dedication Held May 28 '18

Decication of the historic Medora Brick Plan to the new owners, Medora Brick Plant and Historical Sites, Inc. was held Memorial Day late afternoon Monday May 28, 2018 at the plant site located at 4202 W. County Rd 425S, Medora.

It was a warm afternoon.

 

The public was invited and attendees included  former Medora Brick Plant employees and their families.

 

Hot dogs and drinks were served. Balloons were given to children. Music provided by local talents.


the TRIBUNE covered the event

  link to article and photos
at the Tribune

 

 

Save the Plant Movement

2016 onward

 

 

Bernard Gray - long time plant manager

50,000 Brick
Brink plant walk around with long time plant manager  Bernard Gray plus music & song by Daryl Robinson. July 2018
click ... YouTube video 6:38

 

 

Big day (Dec. 28, 2017) for
Save the Medora Brick Plant Movement!!!

Save the Medora Brick Plant organization Board of Directors signed papers to take possession of the plant property from owner Troy Darkis.

Shoemaker, Reynolds-Proffit, Troy Darkis, Reynolds, Anderson-Cowles 

L-R  Dale Shoemaker,
Linda Reynolds-Proffit, Troy Darkis, Tim Reynolds, and
Lynn Anderson Cowles

 


Medora Brick Plant Clean Ups
are conducted each month during good weather months 9am-3pm at the site 8202 W. County Rd. 4255 just outside of Medora town. (Stuff grows !)

Volunteers needed with shovels, mowers, lawn movers, weed eaters, cutters, rakes, chainsaws, etc..  Gloves recommended. Light lunch and refreshments provided. For future clean-ups dates call Donna Carter-McCoy
812 522-7146
.


 

 

Public Support and Participation Meetings have been held the last Monday each month at Medora Senior Center since  since Sept. 2016 on the subject of the plant property's preservation and uses. Monthly meetings at the Medora Senior Citizens Center at 52 W. Main St., Medora. New participants welcome!


Questions?
812 498-9939

 

 

 

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See interviews
&

 Bernard Gray
photo collection

 


May 3, 2008
Historical Marker Dedicated

An unveiling ceremony for a
State of Indiana historical marker
honoring the Brick Plant
 location and those who work there
was held at

the marker site outside of
State Bank of Medora
24 E. Main St. in Medora

Story
See marker photos and background

 

   
Click to
Stories people have told about the plant

 


Help get the story of the brick plant correct!

  • What do you know about the brick plant's history? 

  • And how do you know  it? Do you have photos?

  • How are names mentioned here familiar to you?

              

email  info@medorabrickplant.org

                  

      How to help tell the story     

      

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Site last updated October 30, 2018 by  Steve Graves