The Simons Brick Company, said to have been the largest brick manufacturer in the world, operated its brickyards in Montebello and part of the City of Commerce. Simons bricks were an important part of Southern California’s early 20th century architectural history, built into structures throughout the region, including the Getty House, Olvera Street and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. In 1906, a year opening, the company shipped 3,800 tons of bricks to San Francisco for reconstruction after that city's devastating earthquake. Its bricks were featured in the 1936 Clark Gable film “San Francisco.”
On its 350-acre property, Simons Brick Company hosted a residential community of its brickyard workers and their families (“El Pueblo de Simons”), peaking at 3,000 residents during the 1920s. The company town had its own school, church, grocery story, post office, movie theater, brass band, beauty queen, town sheriff and sports teams (shown). Most workers and residents were Latino immigrants, protected in their enclave from the pervasive racism that existed in society around them.
After World War II, demand for the company’s bricks declined in favor of new building materials. The company closed in 1952.
Also see the Montebello Historical Society's collection of Simons Brick Company images online.