Doors to the Past
The Barboursville Brick Company
The Barboursville Clay Manufacturing Company constructed a factory in 1904 on Peyton Street in Barboursville, West Virginia (1). It joined a list of others that lined the Guyandotte River, many that predated the Civil War, whose bricks went into the construction of homes and streets throughout the region. When the new factory opened, it initially produced 75 types and colors of brick and tile.
In 1921, one of its crowning achievements came when brick from the plant was used for a remodeling project at the White House (2). By the 1970s, the factory sold more than 20 million bricks per year and employed approximately 50 people, according to Jim Wiseman, whose family had operated the plant from the 1920s. Barboursville Clay Manufacturing Company closed in 1979 after someone embezzled $1 million from the company (4).
In 2002, a lawsuit, filed by Claude and Helen Wiseman, claimed that the city of Barboursville breached its contract when it purchased a 13.5-acre parcel from the them in 1996 (2). The acreage is located on US 60 and was to be used for the Barboursville Industrial Park, however, the lawsuit stated that the town promised to construct a new road connecting the land to the former Barboursville brick and tile factory so that it could be joined and developed jointly. The groundwork for the road was started but never completed.
On July 23, 2003 (2), the lawsuit was settled and the village agreed to purchase the 20-acre former brick and tile plant for $1.525 million (2)(3). According to the an environmental study conducted in January 2004 (4), the land contains 21,000 sq. ft. of asbestos and petroleum leaks that extend 18 feet into the soil. The remaining smokestacks also contain high levels of arsenic (3). Preliminary estimates for the cleanup of the asbestos alone range from $39,000 to more than $70,000. In early 2007, the village of Barboursville received a $200,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency, with the assistance of the Brownfields Assistance Center of Southern West Virginia (5).
Asbestos abatement was completed in October. (6) On November 15, the six kiln stacks were demolished. Subsurface petroleum issues and risk analysis will be completed through the winter in preparation for new developments in 2008.
The land is slated to become home to a small park and multifamily housing.
1. Withers, Bob. 'Barboursville plant once produced brick, tile.' Herald-Dispatch [Huntington], Jan. 15, 2007. March 21, 2007.
2. Wartman, Scott. 'Barboursville buys land from couple to settle suit.' Herald-Dispatch [Huntington], Aug. 13, 2003. March 21, 2007.
3. Wartman, Scott. 'Site must be clean before purchase.' Herald-Dispatch [Huntington], Jan. 21, 2004. March 21, 2007.
4. Wartman, Scott. 'Sale of land may hinge on cleanup.' Herald-Dispatch [Huntington], Feb. 13, 2004. March 21, 2007.
5. Pinkston, Antwon. 'Barboursville set to clean up brickyard site.' Herald-Dispatch [Huntington], April 9, 2007. April 9, 2007 Article
6. Alexandersen, Christian. 'Old stacks come down at Barboursville brickyard.' Herald-Dispatch [Huntington] 15 Nov. 2007. 16 Nov. 2007 Article
7. Abandonedonline.net by Sherman Cahal
Under blue skies and chilly winds, a formable sign of Barboursville economic
history came down Thursday afternoon.
A sad ending to a
once booming industry. In the end, plastic and other cheaper material made
quality bricks nearly obsolete. The plant was used to fire the ceramic
bricks used to produce houses in the better part of Huntington and the
Submitted by Ed Prichard