Museum of History & Industry
Museum of History & Industry

The story of Mutual Materials began even before the founding of Builders Brick Co. in 1900. 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 and the wooden buildings and boardwalks.

Eventually the fire consumed all 30 acres of downtown Seattle. The only building left standing was 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).

Burned Seattle

Daniel Houlahan founded Builders Brick Company, Mutual Materials' predecessor, on that site in 1900. Builders Brick went on to supply much of the brick that rebuilt and continues to build Seattle. In 1960, Builders Brick purchased Mutual Materials, a local distributor, and expanded its operations into the marketing and distribution business. In 1966, Builders Brick officially changed its name to Mutual Materials Co.

Today, Mutual is the leading producer and distributor of quality masonry and hardscape products in the Northwest.