Houlton's Brick Industry

A Houlton History Lesson

Isaac Barker was truly a Houlton builder. He lived about a mile out of Houlton village on the North Road. He discovered brick clay in a swamp on his farm and thereby hangs the tale of Houlton's brick industry. Roughly where the Information Center and Walmart are as of 2020.

Mr. Barker, early in life, acquired the cognomen "Cap", short for Captain, for he had the quality of leadership. His grandson and namesake, Isaac Berry, lived with him and worked at brickmaking.

The idea of making brick for the growing town became a family project. Yankee ingenuity succeeded in getting the clay out of the swamp at a high manufacturing cost but nonetheless a business was established; first, on a limited scale but as the demand grew, better equipment was brought into play and the brick business soon became a most important industry in the town.

 

By 1894-1895 a million bricks were made each year, made possible by the installation of a brick-making machine capable of putting out 20,000 bricks per hour. Three kilns, capable of burning over a million a year, were in use. Twenty men were employed five months in the year,

This local brickyard furnished the brick for Wording Hall, the first Houlton High School building, now known as the Sheriff's Department, the County jail, Houlton Savings Bank, the Pumping Station, Lafayette Hotel,  John Watson's residence on Charles street, and many other buildings around Houlton.

 

With the building of the Bangor & Aroostook Railroad this industry was given up due to the great cost of manufacturing the bricks and the competition of more economically operated yards which could provide brick cheaper even after paying transportation costs.

Receipt from July 1st 1891

A clipping from the Aroostook Times

Note:

The store mentioned in the above clipping was what many remember as the "North Store".

 A few of the local building made from the local brickyard.

​​​​© 2015 Aroostook County Historic & Art Museum

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