Corona Heights, now home to the Randall Museum and the dog park where a certain unnamed dog once jumped into a herd of goats, used to be a rock quarry. The notoriously corrupt Gray Brothers, who ran this quarry as well as several others throughout the city, excavated tons of rock and built their factory at what is now the States Street Park in the late 1890s and early 1900s.
From California Brickmakers:
The brickyard and kilns were located on States Street. A large building, 350 feet long by 80 feet wide, contained the engines, boilers, and kilns. The machinery included a 350-h.p. Risdon Corliss Engine, a 150-h.p. engine, a 25 h.p. engine, 2 80-h.p. tubular boilers, 3 125-h.p. Babcock & Wilcox boilers, 6 oil feed steam pumps, 3 steam boiler feed pumps, 4 elevators, a conveyor from the smaller to the larger mill, and 4 extension elevator belts with buckets. There were 3 water tanks, 2 steel oil storage tanks, a windmill, and a well on the property.
The 28-compartment continuous oil-burning kiln was a 1901 patent design of George F. and Harry N. Gray and Richard South. Each of the 28 chambers could hold 40,000 brick. The kiln had a capacity of 140,000 to 150,000 bricks per day. These kilns fired the brick at temperatures of 1,500 to 2,000 degrees F. Above the kiln was an enclosed chamber containing a network of small pipes that conveyed the crude oil to the numerous apertures in the roof of the kiln through which it was allowed to drip down into the combustion chamber below. These drips were regulated by valves to control the heat. One large oil tank wagon was used to obtain the crude oil. Loss from broken or defective brick was about one percent, and these were recycled through the plant again to make new bricks. The plant employed about 53 workers.
The door of the kiln chamber was large enough to admit a brick wagon and team to be loaded after firing. The finished brick were loaded into a patent dumping brick wagon. A pair of horses pulled the large brick wagon to its destination in the city. The company in 1902 owned 11 of these brick wagons and 26 horses. San Francisco bricks were used locally mainly in hospitals, schools, business buildings, and residences.
In 1905, machinery caused a fire at the brick works resulting in a loss of $15,000, though operations continued. This was the only brick manufacturer in San Francisco during the time it was in operation. The brick plant was closed by October 1914, when the firm declared bankruptcy.
+ More on the park’s history from SFNPC
+ Great photos, then & now, at Found SF