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Seattle Brick-Making History
On June 6, 1889, followed a string of unseasonably dry weather in Seattle, at about 2 pm, a pot of glue in a cabinetmaker's shop caught fire. The flames spread quickly, spurred on by a northerly breeze, to the wooden buildings and boardwalks.

Eventually the fire consumed all 30 acres of downtown Seattle. The only buildings left standing were made of brick.

The day after the fire, the Mayor called together all 600 downtown businessmen for a city meeting. They passed an ordinance that all buildings and sidewalks constructed in Seattle had to be built of fireproof materials. Thus began Seattle's love affair with brick.

Brick layers and masons came from all over the United States to help Seattle rebuild. Daniel Houlahan, an experienced brick layer, came from California to help pave the city's roads and sidewalks.

While working in Seattle, Daniel looked for a clay deposit to use for a brick plant. He eventually found an ideal location at the base of Beacon Hill. The deposit was close enough to Puget Sound to allow brick to be efficiently transported by scow (barge).

The 1889 Seattle fire might have been influenced the construction of all the brick buildings in Port Townsend from 1889 through about 1894. We already know that the Cannery was built in 1885 with brick salvaged from an older building in Seattle. And it seems improbably that the small on-site brick-making for the DeVoe, Parish, Eisenbach and other brick houses could have made all the brick for the whole downtown. Maybe most of the Port Townsend brick was salvaged from buildings destroyed in the Seattle fire of 1889.

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