Remillard Brothers

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The Remillard brothers and members of their family were successful owners of brick manufacturing plants in Oakland and San Francisco, California from the 1860s to the mid 1900s.

It was said they built the city of San Francisco twice. Once, before the great earthquake and fire of 1906 and then again afterwards. One building alone, the Palace Hotel, required 1.5 million Remillard bricks to complete.

The three brothers who began the brick making company, and began the Remillard fortune, immigrated from St. Valentin (near Napierville), Quebec to California toward the end of the goldrush.

Pierre-Nicolas “Peter” Rémillard; was born April 1837 at St. Valentin, Quebec. He died 4 August 1904 at Oakland, California. In 1854 he came to California as an aspiring and self-reliant seventeen-year-old. He became involved in gold mining and saved what was later described in his obituary as a “snug sum” of money. In 1861, at the age of twenty-four, he moved to Oakland where he became an employee of a brickyard. Within five years, he rose from hired hand at the brickyard to its owner and opened an office and yard at Clay and 2nd streets and a brick plant in nearby Brooklyn. His brothers Hilaire and Edward also came from Quebec to join him in the enterprise. The business expanded and in 1879, was incorporated as Remillard Brick Company. For a number of years, the Remillard brothers provided contracting service to the building trade in addition to manufacturing bricks. In 1882, the company established a large yard at Pleasanton. The Remillards supplied bricks for many important buildings including the old Palace Hotel in San Francisco and many large and important buildings in Oakland. For some forty years the Remillards were the only brick manufacturing company in Alameda County and supplied material for nearly every brick building in county and held a near monopoly on supplying bricks to the western states and Pacific Islands. In 1890, a yard was established at Greenbrae in Marin County and two years later in 1892, the Remillards established a yard that employed over 300 men at San Jose, Santa Clara County.

Pierre-Nicolas Remillard married Cordule Laurin in January 1867 in San Francisco. He died suddenly on August 4, 1904 at his home on Adams and Perkins Street in Oakland, California from a heart attack. Although he had been in poor health for the previous year, he was able to go to his office until about three months before his death. Pierre Remillard was one of the founders of the First Unitarian Church of Oakland and one of the first members of the Athenian Club. Pierre Remillard’s blue Eastlake frame home is in Preservation Park, at Martin Luther King Jr. Way and 13th Street in Oakland.

Philip-Hilaire Rémillard was born 18 December 1834 at St-Valentin, Quebec; he died 26 March 1902, in Alameda County, California. He was married in 1866/68 at San Francisco to Eveline Levoy. At the age of nineteen, he went to Boston where he learned brick making. He remained at Boston from 1852 to 1854 before heading west to San Francisco by the “Nicaragua Route” through the Isthmus of Panama where he arrived February 17, 1854. He first went to the mining areas in Nevada where he remained until 1860. He made some money in and around Auburn, California and then went to Oakland. He became interested in what was called the “Idaho excitement” and went there until 1862 when he returned to East Oakland. By 1864, he was involved in brick making in a very modest way and the business soon expanded to become the largest of its kind in the area. In 1878, he purchased a block at the corner of Adeline and Forty-Second Street, where the family home remained until about 1883 when his widowed mother erected a beautiful home at Number 999 Forty-Third Street.

Edouard Rémillard was born 1 February 1840 at St-Valentin ; Quebec and died 10 March 1903 at Oakland, California at the age of 63 years while sitting in a chair talking to his brother, P.N. Remillard. In 1859 he left his native Quebec and went to California to join his two older brothers who had arrived in 1849. He first went to the mines for a brief period and soon went to Oakland and San Francisco where the three brothers became partners in the Remillard Brothers Brick Company. He returned to Canada in about 1866 and there he married his cousin Virginie Remillard on 14 January 1867 at Napierville. She was the daughter of Narcisse and Rosalie Monjon and was baptized 15 December 1847 at Napierville. He and Virginia first lived in East Oakland where they erected a comfortable dwelling before moving to Clay Street where they lived until 1887 when they moved to 1355 Webster Street. Edward Remillard became one of the most successful businessmen in San Francisco and the West Coast.

In his will which was probated March 20, 1894 in Oakland, he left an estate valued at $105,578.73 entirely to his widow. The estate consisted of the family residence at 1355Webster Street, valued at $10,000; a two-story brick building and lot on San Pablo Street near Frederick Street, valued at $30,000; cottages on Clay Street, near Tenth valued at $15,000; property at Cypress and West Streets, $1000; 300 shares of stock of the Remillard Brick Company, $45,000; $3278.78 in cash and 140 acres (0.57 km2) of land. There is no mention in the will of his aged mother Mrs. Marie-Reine (Boule) Remillard, who resided at 964 Jefferson Street. Edward and Virginia Remillard had no children of their own but they sheltered nine children born to others in the family.

Countess Lillian Remillard Dandini was the daughter of Pierre-Nicolas and Cordule (Laurin) Remillard. She was born about 1880 in Oakland and died July 17, 1973 in San Francisco and is buried in the Remillard Vault in Mountain View Cemetery, Oakland Calif; where many Bay Area millionaires are buried. She inherited the company from her father after the accidental death of her brother Philip from a fall from a San Francisco restaurant fire escape in March 1901. She was noted for her ownership and preservation of the architectural gem, Chateau Carolands in Hillsborough, California, the second largest house in the United States, which she bought in 1953 and lived in until her death. She willed the Chateau to the city of Hillsborough for a museum of music and art, but left no money to acquire the music or the art and in the end, the city of Hillsbororgh sold the house. She married Count Alessandro Dandini about 1932; divorced about 1939. References cited San Francisco Chronicle; Obituary (date) [1]

She acquired her title of Countess through marriage to Count Alessandro Dandini, which ended in divorce within a few years. References cited: History of California and Biographical Record of Oakland and Environs San Francisco Chronicle


  1. ^ Biographical Sketches; The San Francisco Bay Region; pp.152-155 including photo; San Francisco Chronicle; Death notice; August 4, 1904; 11-2; San Francisco Chronicle; Funeral; August 7, 1904; 25-1; San Francisco Chronicle; Will; August 12, 1904; 10-3.