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Thomaston: The Town that Went to Sea

Henry Knox: Brick Works

Brick from Montpelier, Thomaston, 1794
Brick from Montpelier, Thomaston, 1794

Item Contributed by
Montpelier, The General Henry Knox Museum

The Eleventh Annual Report of the Bureau of Industrial and Labor Statistics for the State of Maine, published in 1897, states that Boston became the chief market and promoter of Maine brick yards somewhere between 1760 and 1770. Several fires in Boston had greatly increased the popularity of brick as a building material. According to local historian Cyrus Eaton, Knox “went largely into the brickmaking business, near the water below the upper wharf” and his wastebook clearly demonstrates that Boston was his major market.

Page from Knox's wastebook describing sales of brick to Boston
Page from Knox's wastebook describing sales of brick to Boston

Item Contributed by
Montpelier, The General Henry Knox Museum

According to one entry on September 7, 1805, Knox sent on board three different vessels a shipment of 61,500 bricks, 40,000 bricks, and 5,000 bricks, all bound for either John Brooks or Wales & Beale of Boston. Several projects that may have used those bricks were in the works: Charles Bulfinch, a prominent Boston architect and principal in the Broad Street Association, was expanding Faneuil Hall in 1805 and 1806 as well as building rows in the area of Broad Street and India Street, replacing decaying wharves; and the Dover Street Bridge between Boston and South Boston opened in 1805.