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Morin Brick, Maine’s last surviving brick company, recently announced its centennial just three years after the company’s recapitalization. Morin now stands poised to produce new generations of sustainable cityscapes, schools, brick-paved plazas and walkways that will stand the test of time over many lifetimes.
A History of Brickmaking
Morin Brick began when “horsepower” was literal, says Paul Lachance, vice president, with horses used for such heavy tasks as pulling the roller that pulverizes the clay and clearing snow in the winter. Male workers would wear bathing suits when using the manually operated machines to form the brick, both to make the excessive heat more bearable and for easier cleanup.
In the early days, brick was used to construct buildings located near the brick factory, Lachance says. Over time, advances in rail and roads allowed the brick to be transported farther, and marketing to become more regional. By the end of World War II, Morin Brick was a brand name in Boston architectural circles.
Now, as Maine’s only brickmaker, Morin offers a number of choices to the building industry, including several combinations of size, texture and color.
In 2009, the company underwent a majority acquisition by New Hampshire-based real estate and construction leader R.J. Finlay & Co. It was a move that allowed Morin to reorganize, re-fire its kilns, and save 55 local jobs.
Widespread Use in New England Architecture
Over the last century, Morin’s waterstruck and extruded brick has been used in some of New England’s most recognizable architecture. Morin’s most recent projects include a classroom building at Derry, NH’s historic Pinkerton Academy; a large new high school in Keene, NH; Concord Hospital; new construction at Dartmouth College; the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard’s recent expansion; a new business school at the University of New Hampshire; and new student housing at the University of Connecticut.
In 2010, Morin received a gold medal from the Brick Industry Association’s Brick in Architecture Awards—the industry’s top recognition—for the prominent placement of its waterstruck product in a stunning new residence hall at Worcester (MA) Polytechnic Institute.
“We could not be prouder of what Morin has been able to accomplish over the last few years,” says R.J. Finlay & Co. CEO Robert Finlay. “We knew this was a special company with a long and proud history when we approached them. The projects they’ve completed and the artistry they’ve continued to turn out are nothing short of remarkable. We congratulate them on this important milestone and look forward to another fantastic century of Morin tradition.”