A picture post card of the Wilson Castle. Courtesy of Cardcow.com
WILSON CASTLE TILED FIREPLACES--PROCTOR, VT
There are thirteen tiled fireplaces in this "19th century architectural masterpiece...brimming with antique furnishings and museum pieces. ...The castle..[was constructed beginning] in 1867 by Doctor and Lady Johnson. He was a Vermonter who went to England to study medicine. While there he met and married a wealthy lady of the aristocracy. After 71/2 years of planning and construction, the castle was completed at the sum of $1,300,000. The Johnson’s remained in the castle for only a brief time. From the 1880’s until 1939, the castle was bought and sold 4 times. In 1939, a radio engineer named Herbert Lee Wilson came to Vermont. A pioneer in the AM radio field and builder of radio stations all over the world, he was looking for a new location to build another station and a summer home for his family. He bought the castle and installed radio station WEWE in the old stable, which remains in operation. After serving in the Army Signal Corp in WWII, he retired to the castle and in 1962 opened it for tours. His daughter, Blossom Wilson Davine Ladabouche, owns the property and makes her summer home in the old servants’ quarters... ."1
Materials Used/Technical Information (size, manufacturer, etc.):
The thirteen tiled fireplaces were created mainly with tiles from the J. & J.G. Low Art Tile Works of Chelsea, Massachusetts. John Gardner Low (1835-1907) studied painting in Paris with Thomas Couture and M. Troyon in 1858. In 1877 he became interested in ceramic manufacture after working for the Robertsons' Chelsea Keramic Art Works, and in 1878 Low and his father formed the J. & J.G. Low Art Tile Works. In 1880 Low's art tiles won a gold medal in competetion at the Exhibition at Crewe, Stoke-on-Trent against all English manufacturers.2
Since the Wilson Castle was built by 1875, and the Low Art Tile Works began production in about 1879, the fireplaces were most likely tiled/created shortly after 1879.
Does Installation Still Exist?
Location of Installation:
West Proctor Road
Additional Information, Websites, Citations:
2Edwin Atlee Barber, The Pottery and Porcelain of the United States, G. P. Putnams Sons, New York, New York, pp. 346-348.
The official website for the Wilson Castle is http://www.wilsoncastle.com/.
For an in-depth discussion of John Gardner Low and his influence on the development of the U.S. art tile industry, read Richard Pennington's Low Art Tile: John Gardner Low and the Artists of Boston's Guilded Age, ©2010 and published by Amazon.com. Another recently published book is a reproduction of one of Low's tile catalogs (probably the c. 1885 catalog): Illustrated Catalogue Of Art Tiles Made By J. And J.g. Low, Chelsea, Mass., U.s.a...., Publisher: Nabu Press (February 19, 2012). The J. & J.G. Low Company made many ceramic tile products. Among them were tile soda fountains. A catalog of Low's soda fountains may be accessed at http://tileresearcharticles.omeka.net/items/show/25. (Just scroll down the page to "Files" and click on the pdf file.)
Submitted by and Year:
Submitted by Ginny Drake and Vince Tancredi in May 2012. Photos, unless otherwise noted, courtesy of Ginny Drake and Vince Tancredi.