Biography of Charles Henry Frost of Los Angeles

Enterprise and determination are strong elements in prosperity, and they are found among the salient characteristics of Charles Henry Frost, the president and manager of the Los Angeles Pressed Brick Company and one of the city’s most progressive and capable business men. His advancement in the industrial world has been through his own efforts, and today he is enjoying a richly merited success, while the future is bright with promise.

Mr. Frost is a native of the state of New York, his birth occurring in the historic Ithaca, June 9, 1844, a son of George P. and Eliza (Benjamin) Frost. When he was fourteen years of age the family removed to the newer country of Illinois, and there the son Charles was reared and educated. On attaining to years of responsibility he went to Chicago, which at that time, in 1861, was a city of less than two hundred and fifty thousand population, and to him belongs the distinction of having erected and operated the only pressed-brick plant ever conducted up to that time in that city. After a business career there of twenty years, in which he met with gratifying success, he was attracted by the splendid opportunities for investment in Los Angeles, and in 1886 came to this city. Shortly after his arrival he organized the Los Angeles Pressed Brick Company, and has since been its president and manager. The product was no sooner placed on the market than it created a demand, and it soon became evident that the plant would have to be materially enlarged to fill advance orders. This has been done as the business demanded it, and today the establishment is one of the largest and most complete in the United States, with two plants, one in Los Angeles, the other in Santa Monica. The plants cover twelve acres at the one and fifty-seven acres at the other. Both plants possess exceptionally good shipping facilities, with spurs from both the Santa Fe and the Southern Pacific Railroads entering the yards. The buildings are modern and the equipment of the latest type, all brick being fired by heat generated from oil, and from one hundred and fifty to two hundred men are furnished in wages by the company. They also own sixteen hundred acres of land in an adjoining county, which they have uncovered and are mining a superior grade of non-plastic flint clay. There is a vein over three thousand feet in length and forty feet in width upon the property, and assays of the clay show it to possess those elements which are so essential for the manufacture of a superior grade of fire-brick. This flint clay mine is one of less than a dozen known to exist in this country. The product of the plant finds a ready sale as far south as Tucson, Arizona, and east as far as Ogden, on the Union Pacific Railroad. The pressed brick made by this company is not surpassed in the United States, and is in great demand among the leading architects, contractors and builders of this city. Its popularity is based upon the two-fold consideration of quality and economy, for the company meets all competitors in both these respects. Among the prominent buildings in Los Angeles into the construction of which this firm’s product has entered are the new ten-story Huntington Building, which is the largest erected west of St. Louis, and the twelve-story Trust Building, corner of Fourth and Spring streets. In fact, this firm supplies the pressed brick for practically every large building in this city.

Mr. Frost capitalized the company for three hundred and fifty thousand dollars, and has associated with him in its management such well known financiers as W. C. Patterson, president of the Los Angeles National Bank; I. N. Van Nuys, the multi-millionaire, owner of the famous hostelry of that name; Dr. Henry West Hughes, a wealthy physician of this city, together with James Irvine, owner of the San Joaquin one hundred and six thousand-acre ranch, the largest in southern California. All are men of substantial character and resources, and with the other stockholders, among whom may be mentioned Frederick H. Rindge and H. E. Huntington, present one of the strongest associations of business talent in the city. Mr. Frost’s entire business career has been one of marked success. He has manifested a discriminating judgment in the selection of real estate and associates, and his holdings in this city and Pasadena number some of the most desirable residence and business properties in those cities. In 1898 he erected the Frost Building which, with the ground, is worth two hundred and fifty thousand dollars, one of the most imposing business blocks in this city. He is also the owner of a handsome olive grove of one hundred and fifteen acres situated near El Toro, in Orange county, and he has been prominent in the organization of the American Olive Company, through which the growers of large orchards hope to market their crops, both in the form of olive oil and canned or pickled olives, for which there is such a ready market, both locally and in the East. Mr. Frost is popular in business and financial circles, taking an abiding interest in all matters affecting the welfare of his community, and has in many ways demonstrated the fact that he possesses true public spirit. When a young man he was elected alderman of Davenport, Iowa, by unanimous vote, and no citizen of this section is more honored or highly respected.

Source: Leigh H. Irvine; A History of the New California Its Resources and People, 2 Volumes; New York and Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1903.

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