History of Adobe building in California

This fascinating article describes early adobe building in central California and traces it’s evolution to modern times, including extensive information regarding the development of stabilized adobe brick.  Please click on the following excerpt to access the entire article.

“Adobe” is a Spanish word derived from the Arabic “atob” or “sun-dried brick” and traditionally is usually a mix of sand, sometimes gravel, clay, water, and often straw or grass, mixed together by hand.  It can be formed in wooden molds and dried in the sun for bricks, rammed into wooden forms for the pise technique, or “puddled” – layered without use of a form – as was the tradition among Native Americans in the Southwest.  Historically, most adobe walls were composed of bricks laid with mud mortar.  Surface coatings for exterior and interior walls include mud plaster, lime plaster, whitewash, and stucco.  Close to one third of the world’s buildings are constructed of “earth,” and although usually modest, adobe can also be adapted for more elaborate buildings such as the mosques of North Africa and early Morman buildings in Salt Lake City.

Article is provided courtesy of the City of Fresno, Development Department, Planning Division. Special thanks to Karana Hattersley-Drayton, Executive Editor.

“Caladobe” was introduced in California as a waterproof brick, by the American Bitumuls Company, in the 1940’s.   A simple formula for this waterproof brick is shown below.

According to newspaper articles of the time, only two brickyards in California were “certified” to produce Caladobe; The Hans Sumpf yard in the Fresno area, and the L R Green yard in Escondido.  However, other yards and many individuals were making their own emulsilfed asphalt bricks, which may have been just as good.