Barboursville Clay Manufacturing Company

The Barboursville Clay Manufacturing Company, located in Barboursville, West Virginia, operated from 1904 to 1979.

The Guyan Valley Brick Company was founded in 1904 on Peyton Street in Barboursville, West Virginia.8 It joined a list of other brick plants that lined the Guyandotte River, many that predated the Civil War, whose bricks went into the construction of homes and streets in the region.1 The initial equipment consisted of a steel disintegrator, two Frost nine-foot dry pans, ten-foot pug mill and a Steele and Company auger machine of 70,000 brick capacity in ten hours.8 The brick was dried in two five-track National steam driers that held 85 cars with a capacity of 54,000 bricks. The plant was expanded to contain eight down-draft kilns, 30-feet in diameter, that held 70,000 bricks each, and six up-draft kilns 70-feet long, holding 400,000 brick.

When the new factory opened, it initially produced 75 types and colors of brick and tile.1 The company operated in a thick deposit of gray sandy shale 10 to 30 feet thick, lying beneath the Morgantown sandstone.8 Near the plant was a large acreage of sandy river clay, 38 feet deep, that made for a very good grade of red building brick that was burned in up-draft kilns.

A joint stock company took over the Guyan Valley Brick Company, which was languishing in debt due to the nationwide financial panic, and the new company was formed largely through the efforts of Rev. M.C. Johnson, in 1909.9 The capitol stock of the new company was $25,000, of which $15,000 was paid for.

In 1921, one of its crowning achievements came when brick from the plant was used for a remodeling project at the White House 2. On June 19, 1926 J.C. Alderson, manager of the Huntington Brick and Tile Company, purchased Barboursville Brick and Tile for $50,000 and became president and general manager.7 Negotations for the purchase began a month prior. Alderson maintained a Huntington yard for the Barboursville plant at 31st Street and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.

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.


  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. “Barboursville Brick and Tile Plant Has Been Sold.” Charleston Daily Mail 19 June 1926. 25 May 2012: 10. Print.
  8. Krebs, C. E., D. D. Teets, Jr., and I. C. White. “The Barboursville Clay Manufacturing Company.” West Virginia Geological Survey: Cabell, Wayne and Lincoln Counties. Wheeling: Wheeling News Litho, 1913. 414. Print.
  9. “Kentucky Brick Plant Changes Hands.” Clay Record 35.2 (July 1909): 32. Print.

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