REYNOLDS MANSION--BELLEFONTE, PA
"The Reynolds Mansion, now a luxury hotel in Pennsylvania, was completed in 1885 by Major William Frederick Reynolds, a wealthy businessman, landowner, and banker.* The home is of the late Victorian period featuring an eclectic blend of Gothic, Italianate, and Queen Anne styles. The stone for the exterior was quarried by the Hummelstown Brownstone Company in Hummelstown, PA. Due to its purple or blue cast, it is referred to as blue brownstone. ...Entering through the lavish marble foyer complete with infinity mirrors and an original gas lamp, guests discover the period-specific grand common areas including the living room, billiard room, dining room, and Snuggery (a room where gentlemen retired to enjoy brandy and cigars). Interior details of the Mansion include classic mirrors, handcrafted woodwork, stained glass windows, detailed molding, and inlaid parquet floors of which no two are the same. The woodwork of the Mansion is a very interesting part of the construction. The paneled ceiling in the main hall is a rich walnut, as well as the staircase which is hand carved and adorned with a brass lamp on the newel post. The dining room, however, features chestnut wood, which is warm, inviting, and light. Perhaps most interesting is the use of pressed plaster, stained to look like wood, used in the billiard room as molding. ...The mansion boasts 13 fireplaces, adorned with original ornate tiles... ."1
* "...the mansion had originally been built in 1885 by Major William Frederick Reynolds [d. 1893] who was responsible for establishing the bank firm, W.F. Reynolds and Company. Major Reynolds never married nor had any heirs to will his estate to, so when he died it passed on to his cousin Colonel W[illiam] Frederick Reynolds. Colonel Reynolds, also a great entrepreneur, established the Pennsylvania Match Company which eventually went out of business due to competition from cigarette lighter manufacturers. [The match factory is now the home of the American Philatelic Society.]"2 "The design [of the mansion] was inspired by Frank Furness, a well known architect of his day."3
Materials Used/Technical Information (size, manufacturer, etc.):
The fireplace tile surrounds of at least four fireplaces in the Reynolds Mansion were manufactured by the International Tile Company of Brooklyn, NY. In February 1883 the International Tile Company was organized in New York State, and by late 1883 was producing English-type transfer tiles and molded relief and encaustic tiles at 92 Third Street, Brooklyn--near the Gowanus Canal, where raw materials could easily be off-loaded and tiles could be shipped. According to decorative arts historian Susan Padwee, “...the International Tile Company...was an anomoly. I.T.C. was the only company organised and financed in England." I.T.C. was organized by sons of the Irish and English nobility, and was the first U.S. company to produce English-style transfer tiles for U.S. consumption. "According to Fred H. Wilde, an English ceramist who worked for I.T.C. for about a year, ‘all presses, dies, and special machinery were brought from England. Many of the workers (all department heads) were brought over, including a printer and engraver’ [needed for transfer tile production]."4 The ads for the International Tile Company promote its encaustic, majolica, enamelled, decorated glazed and hand-painted tiles. "By 1886 the English owners sold the I.T.C. to the owners of the Arbuckle Coffee Company. Although the tile company remained in buisness until about 1891, when its plant was taken over by the New York Vitrified Tile Company, it is possible that I.T.C. did not produce many art tiles after the British left."4 Only between 125 and 150 distinct tile designs are known for this company; no exterior tile installations are known, and few interior art tile installations--such as fireplace surrounds--are known to still exist. The tiles in the Reynolds Mansion fireplaces are molded-relief tiles from a number of tile series manufactured by the International Tile Company: "ideal heads"; tiles based on Bertel Thorvaldsen's "Four Seasons of Man" sculptures; dragons and grotesque heads; pitchers; and plants and flowers.
The tiles were most likely created between 1883 and 1885, when the Mansion was built.
Does Installation Still Exist?
Location of Installation:
101 West Linn Street, Bellefonte, PA 16823.
Additional Information, Websites, Citations:
4Susan Ingham Padwee, “The International Tile Company” in Glazed Expressions, No. 38, Spring 1999, p. 5, http://tileresearcharticles.omeka.net/items/show/20 (just scroll down the page and click on the pdf file).
We know of one other commercial building--Roops Mill complex in Winchester, MD--that had International Tile Company tiles installed during a Victorian-era renovation. These tiles were removed, however, sometime before Roops Mill's current renovation and repurposing as a B&B. The tiles were sold to a local architectural salvage company.
Submitted by Michael Padwee (tileback101'at'collector.org) in September 2012 with the permission and help of the Reynolds Mansion B&B inkeepers, Tricia and Mike Andriaccio.
Main Hall Fireplace
People with background stars series
The Living Room Fireplace. The "Pitchers" series tiles are at the bottom right and left.
The Dining Room Fireplace with three of four of the "Ages of Man" series based on the sculptures of Bertel Thorvaldsen. The tiles with geometric-style designs are not known I.T.C. designs.
The Billiards Room Fireplace. Although the surround tiles are not a known I.T.C. design, the hearth tiles are known designs.
The Snuggery Fireplace