Imagine the horse and carriages that rode on these antique street pavers over 100 years ago. (more pictures)
Our Jamestown Classic brick pavers are an important piece of history - and will add beautiful historic character to your next project. The reclaimed street brick pavers from our Jamestown Classic Series originate from Jamestown, New York, but have been used for paving projects throughout the Northeast. At its peak, the Jamestown Shale Paving Brick Co. produced 15 million bricks a year—all of which were the “hardest and most durable” for paving.
Our customers have used this series of products for driveways, patios, streetscapes and other landscape projects. Their rich mix of colors and classic look helps our reclaimed Jamestown pavers pair well with homes and other properties in a wide variety of styles, ages and settings.
To discover more about the history of our reclaimed street pavers, visit the History section below.
Our Jamestown bricks are part of the rich history of the city of Jamestown, which is located in Chautauqua County, New York, and was first incorporated in 1827. Late in the 1800s, there were no paved streets in the city, but by 1900 there were 70 miles of them—all thanks to the Jamestown Shale Paving Brick Co. Originally used on streets, sidewalks and buildings, these bricks have stood the test of time and can lend a rich, antique look to your project today.
Founded in 1893 by Judge Jerome B. Fisher, the company first used clay to make its bricks, but quickly shifted to shale in the early 1900s. Its operations moved to East Jamestown, where the shale supply was abundant and of high quality. The resulting bricks were the “hardest and most durable kind of bricks for paving purposes,” according to the Illustrated History of Jamestown published in 1900.
The popularity of Jamestown bricks soared, and the company thrived because of its shale and its proximity to the railroad for shipments. At one time, “every foot of pavement laid in the city of Jamestown” came from the company’s quarries. The bricks were used for paving projects in Brooklyn, New Jersey and even in the tunnels into New York City. At its peak, the company produced 15 million bricks a year, with a capacity of 100,000 bricks (or over 135 tons) a day.
The Jamestown Shale Paving Brick Co. closed briefly during World War I because of labor shortages, but reopened after the war to create jobs for returning soldiers. The Broadhead family bought the company around 1920 and owned it until it closed in 1935 amid the Great Depression.
Today, Jamestown has more than 50 miles of exposed red brick streets and a remarkably flat landscape—thanks, again, to the operations of the Jamestown Shale Paving Brick Co. After shale was discovered as a useful, strong material for bricks, the company’s quarries “worked with great diligence, and as a result the rugged and almost inaccessible hills of [Jamestown] been whittled down to an almost level plain to supply the constant and ever-increasing demand for brick.”
Here’s how the bricks were produced: First, dynamite was detonated in a quarry, breaking the shale into millions of pieces. Workers shoveled the pieces onto a large pan, where a 4,800-pound crusher smashed them into a fine powder. A system of sieves, or sifters, filtered unwanted material out of the powder, which was then mixed with water and molded into a long brick bar. A machine, with knives working automatically, would cut the bar down to proper-sized bricks. Then, the bricks went into a dry kiln and a burning kiln, and were finally ready to be shipped to cities and towns across the country.
The process was far more extensive and grueling than modern practices, resulting in unique paving materials that are as strong today as they were when they were produced over 100 years ago.