There were many ceramic tile installations created for both interior/decorative, and exterior use in the United States from the 1870s to the 1950s. Many of these installations still exist in a variety of conditions, while others have been misplaced or destroyed and all but forgotten. One goal of this website is to locate and describe those installations that still exist, publicize them, and bring them to the attention of those who are interested in the preservation of historic tiles. Another goal is to document those installations that have been destroyed and publicize the loss of our artistic heritage. I will be adding installations that illustrate the wide variety that exist, but this task would be daunting without outside help. If you would like to add an historic tile installation to this site or have corrections or additions to something that's listed, please email me at tileback101"at"collector.org with as much information as possible following the outline on the following pages.
All rights reserved. The information and photos contained on this site come from many sources, and are to be used only for non-commercial, educational purposes. Any photos used from this site must be accurately attributed.
This website is best viewed on a full-size computer screen with the browser adjusted to the screen's width.
If an image does not appear, double click on the ?. Any image can be enlarged by clicking on it.
Organization of the Database:
Tile installations will be listed by state (A to M) in the sidebar to the left. Tile installations in the other states (N to Z) can be accessed under "Links" in the sidebar to the left, as can other websites devoted to U.S. tile installations found on the internet.
Historic U.S. Tile Installation News:
30 January 2012:
New tile installations from California, New Jersey and New York have been added to the database. The newest addition are
the WPA tile murals of Domenico Mortellito installed in the Newark City Subway (now the NJ Transit Newark Light Rail).
5 November 2011:
A new feature has been added to this website--a page titled "WHERE ARE THEY NOW???". This page will illustrate tile
installations that we have discovered referenced in searches, but there is no further information to be found.
We have also added a number of tile installations from Kalamazoo, Michigan, Lincoln, Nebraska and Kansas City, Missouri.
Over the years some tile installations have undergone restoration. In Kansas City, a ceramic artist, Carolyn Payne of Payne Creations
Tile, has documented her restoration work at the Country Club Plaza since 1992. Ms. Payne has allowed us to reproduce some of the
photos of her work at the Plaza.
12 July 2011:
Nine tile installations have been added to the database.
15 January 2011:
A new website has been created to re-publish articles about the clay industry, tile installations, pottery and terra cotta in the
Many of these articles were originally published before, or around, the turn of the 20th century, but there are some
contemporary articles, and it is hoped that permission will be given to
also re-publish contemporary articles. The website is at
18 November 2010:
Three Zanesville, OH tile installations that no longer exist were submitted by Zanesville tile and local historian Michael Sims. A
page for the Van Briggle Pottery in Colorado Springs, CO was added.
Also, I added a link to an American Art Pottery Association page with a scanned article by Richard Mohr about the Grueby tile murals
in the Lackawana RR Station in Scranton, PA. It is hoped that many more articles like this will be scanned by
the AAPA and made
accessible to the public.
08 November 2010:
Under "Links" a website depicting the Santa Monica, CA City Hall was added. This site describes the tiles manufactured by the
Gladding McBean Company which were installed in the 1930s.
05 November 2010:
A Field Guide to the Key Patterns on the Backs of United States Ceramic Tiles, 1870s-1930s (3rd Edition) has been
published on the internet at http://tilefieldguide.omeka.net/items/show/49 and added to "Links".
28 October 2010:
After an extended trip to Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Indiana I have three more tile installations to add to this database.
The first was located in Ottawa Hills (Toledo), OH, and was discovered by chance when I visited an architectural salvage yard.
Needless to say, it is no longer in existence, but part of it will most likely be preserved in another setting. The other two installations
still exist and are documented here thanks to tile historian/author Michael Sims of Zanesville, OH.
20 September 2010:
The Handmade Tile Association, which is based in Minneapolis, MN, has prepared historic tile maps of the St. Paul, Minneapolis
and Duluth, MN areas and of Superior, WI. The link in the sidebar will take you to the maps site of the HTA where historic tile
installations have already been documented.
Susan Toomey Frost has written an article about, and devoted part of her website to the historic tiles of San Antonio, TX. This
can also be accessed through the "TX" link at the left. Susan has also written an excellent book about the tiles and tile makers of San
Antonio, COLORS ON CLAY: The San José Tile Workshops of San Antonio (2010, Trinity University Press, San Antonio, TX).
Susan Tunick (see the Friends of Terra Cotta link under "Links") is the author of Terra-Cotta Skyline (Princeton Architectural
Press, New York, NY, 1997) which documents many of the historic architectural terra-cotta facades of New York City buildings. The
FOTC website also contains an architectural terra-cotta database.
15 September 2010:
The article "The Identification of Antique United States Ceramic Tiles" is part of the introduction in the newly published, 3rd edition of A Field Guide to the Key Patterns on the Backs of United States Ceramic Tiles, 1870s-1930s. The article contains a new classification system for the key patterns found on the backs of U.S. tiles. The Field Guide will be of use to preservation architects, tile historians and collectors, among others. The Field Guide contains over 800 drawings of key patterns and the companies that used them, a section of markings on tile backs used by over 200 companies, a section on patents relating to key patterns, and a timeline of tile producers. This book can be downloaded from the website for non-commercial purposes only.
©2010-2012 by Michael Padwee. All rights reserved.