Early buildings made of brick to prevent fire
The first brick building in Prineville was the mercantile business of Hahn & Fried in 1879 at the corner of Second and Main streets.
It is not certain who provided the brick for the construction. There was some mention of a brick yard west of town, possibly just north of Ochoco Creek and between Fairmont and Harwood streets. The Hahn & Fried building is still standing.
Other brick buildings were built in the next few years. But the first major brick yard in Prineville was built by W. F. Hardin in 1901. He was a well-known brick maker from Lebanon.
The community was becoming more and more concerned about the fire danger created by wooden buildings in the business district. A move was made to make all new businesses of brick, stone or concrete.
Hardin built his brick factory in 1901. He produced most of the bricks for many of the early businesses in Prineville. He later left the area. But after the 1922 fire burned most of the downtown section of Prineville, he returned and re-established a brick plant.
Many of the buildings he had built earlier had burned. He began manufacturing brick in the northeast part of Prineville. Hardin claimed that the potter's clay found about 5 feet below the surface along the Crooked River was some of the finest he had ever seen for making bricks.
City water was piped to the plant for the molding process. The machine used had a capacity of 20,000 bricks a day and the kiln could hold 75,000 bricks. The new plant employed eight men. The plant was later moved to the southeastern outskirts of Prineville and was expanded. About 29,000 bricks were molded a day, and the kiln capacity was increased to 125,000 bricks. Most of the brick buildings in Prineville utilized bricks manufactured at the brick yard.
Hardin continued operating his plant until 1925. Another brick company was built in eastern Prineville and one at Prineville Junction along the railroad. Those also eventually discontinued.
Steve Lent is a local historian and assistant director of the Bowman Museum. He can be reached at: 541-447-3715.