If you've ever spent any time in the City of St. Louis, then you know that the city contains a LOT of structures made of brick. If you've ever studied the history of St. Louis or looked at any old maps of the city, then you know that the city used to contain a LOT of clay mines.
Today while working @ the Lafayette Lofts project, we set up shop in what used to be the school's boiler room. While setting up the saws and dragging lumber into the work area, I happened to look down at the floor and I noticed that all the bricks in one area - probably the pad an old boiler once sat on - were firebricks, and stamped with the words "LACLEDE ST. LOUIS".
(The lighting in the pic is a little crazy, there's nothing but super bright overhead fluorescent lights in the former boiler room)
I had a few minutes to kill while waiting to get work started so I did some quick internet research on the bricks, and I was instantly fascinated. As it turns out, a lot of the biggest brick manufacturers throughout the city's history started operation so long ago that it's hard to find definitive records, but all signs point towards the Laclede Firebrick Manufacturing Company originating in 1844. 1844! That's insane. That's pre-Civil War. The firebricks that sat under the old boiler in the Lafayette School (built in 1906), which is being converted to a residential building (in 2016), were produced by a company that got started 20-ish years before the Civil War was over!
Anyhow...around the time of the construction of Lafayette School, the Laclede Firebrick Manufacturing Company was located near what is now HWY 44 & Hampton, and can be seen in the 1903 map below:
I could ramble on and on about this stuff for a while, but I'll save y'all the history lesson. Should you want to do a little reading on the company that provided firebrick to the Jefferson Hotel, the Missouri Pacific Bldg., the Frisco Bldg., the Star Bldg., the Women's Magazine Bldg., Fine Arts Museum, and McKinney High School...and Lafayette School, among many other buildings, check out this link.