Moment of Indiana History

Medora Shale Brick Company

Founded in 1904, the Medora Shale Brick Company was one of nearly 55 brick plants in Indiana at the turn of the century. The surrounding hills in Jackson County provided a ready supply of material for brick production.

The nearby Baltimore and Ohio Railroad carried the finished Medora brick throughout the Midwest for use in paving streets. At its peak, the Medora Shale Brick Company employed a 50-man workforce to produce 54,000 handmade bricks a day from its twelve domed kilns.

In 1922, financial troubles forced the Medora Shale Brick Company to auction, and it was purchased by the Jackson Brick and Hollowware Company. The Medora kilns were then reworked to churn out brick to be used for facing new buildings, including some still seen in Detroit , Chicago , and Cincinnati , as well as on the campuses of Ball State , the University of Louisville , and the University of Kentucky .

In fact, Medora brick was the preferred supplier to Purdue University from 1960 to 1980, mainly because the plant’s large supply of clay ensured a matching brick color throughout the campus. The plant continued to produce brick up until its closing in 1992.

Today, the Medora Brick Plant suffers from the ravages of time and neglect. In 2004, the Medora Brick Plant was named to Indiana ‘s ten Most Endangered Landmarks in Indiana in the hopes that it will soon be restored to its original condition.

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