In the early 1920’s, William Wrigley Jr. and David M. Renton were driving Mr. Wrigley’s car up by the Catalina Island golf course. It had been raining earlier in the day and as the gentlemen turned the car around, it became stuck in some clay-like mud. Mr. Renton wondered if the clay was good enough to make bricks. Mr. Wrigley told him to look into it.
That began the use of clay bricks for building in Avalon as early at 1923. It was a department of the Santa Catalina Island Company. The Tile Factory and later the Catalina Tile and Pottery followed and became a prosperous business unto itself. Beautiful, colorful and charming, these tiles were placed all around Avalon adding to the early California theme of the town. Planters, tableware, fountains, tables, candle holders, ashtrays, humidors and vases were made of vibrant colors like Toyon Red, Descanso Green, Catalina Blue, etc. Glazes were made from local minerals mined from the island.
In 1937, Catalina Clay Products, was sold to Gladding, Bean & Co. They continued to produce dinnerware and art ware until 1942. Tiles were sold throughout the U.S. The pool of Arizona Biltmore, in Phoenix, was built using Catalina Tile.
Today these pieces, if you can find them, are very valuable and can be purchased at pottery shows, ebay and private collections.