A 1929 Yearbook Photo


Title of Installation:

Columbia High School, Interior Tiling

Materials Used:

Ceramic tiles

General Description:

"You'd think maybe that Columbia High School ended up with an organ by one of the greatest builders of the time purely through serendipity. To come to this conclusion you would be also have to believe the school has massive gothic central tower, a steep slate roof, and numerous limestone carvings purely by chance as well. Add to that Guastavino catalan arches over the swimming pool, a Brashear telescope in the observatory, Mueller Mosaic tiles thoughout the halls, and a E. Howard Clock and Meneely Bell in the tower, and this series of coincidences looks suspiciously purposeful."1


Columbia High School was designed by James O. Betelle, the senior partner of Guilbert and Betelle, and was built in 1926-27. "Inside the school can be found rooms with fireplaces, hallways with beautiful faience wall tiles by John Scott Award recipient Herman Carl Mueller of Trenton, and mosaic inlaid terrazzo floors in the front hall. ...The original auditorium chandeliers have...been removed. A similar story exists with regard to the swimming pool; while the original vaulted Catalan Guastavino tile ceiling remains, the chandeliers are gone... ."2


Technical Information (Size,mfg., etc.):

The wall art tiles were manufactured by the Mueller Mosaic Tile Company (c. 1908-1941) of Trenton, NJ. The tiled vaulting over the swimming pool was manufactured by the R. Guastavino Company (1885-1962) of New York.

Year Created:


Year Installed, if different:

Does Installation Still Exist?


Location of Installation:

Parker Avenue and Academy Street, Maplewood, NJ

    Additional Information, Websites, Citations:

Unless otherwise noted, all photos by, and used with the permission of the photographer, Steve Weintraub, who also has a website dedicated to the architect of Columbia High School, James Betelle.

Submitted by and Year:

This tile installation was suggested by John Elwood, who is active in the movement to restore the Columbia High School Skinner Organ, and the webpage would not have existed without the help of Steve Weintraub. Submitted January 2012.

An entrance into the auditorium

Columbia High School Plaque; Mueller Mosaic Co. tiles

Mueller Mosaic tile detail

R. Guastavino Co. tile vaulting over the swimming pool

This ad for Gaustavino Akoustalith tiles appeared in The Architectural Record, April 1930. The pool shown is of Columbia High School in Maplewood, NJ.