Photo taken by Andrew Jameson1 in 2008



ST. PAUL'S CATHEDRAL--DETROIT, MI

Title of Installation:
Tiled floors in St. Paul's Cathedral
General Description:
"The Cathedral Church of St. Paul was designed by Ralph Adams Cram (1863-1942) of the firm Cram, Goodhue, Ferguson of Boston and New York, and who was then America’s leading exponent of the Gothic Revival architectural style. He chose to design the Cathedral in the 14th-century English style of Gothic architecture, an early form of this style in which the features which one normally associates with Gothic architecture – soaring, pointed arches, wide expanses of stained glass, and elaborate tracery – are present, though in simplified and severe form. ...There is no steel superstructure in the building at all – a surprising fact, given its wide use in commercial buildings and skyscrapers of the same period – so that its enormous weight is entirely self-supported. Cram felt that the Gothic style best expressed humankind’s relationship God, and he deliberately designed the building to put that idea forth."2


(From Marion V. Loud, "The Tile Floors in St. Paul's Cathedral, Detroit", in Handicraft, Vol. IV, No. 2, May 1911)3


Mary Chase Stratton, the founder of the Pewabic Pottery, wrote of the tiling:
"The tiles in general are characterized by freedom in the fashioning, having an undulating plane on the surface, with softened edges and corners. All the irregular shapes were cut in the clay, being made from templates during the process of the laying when necessary, so that there was no chipping or cutting of the finished, burned tile. The unglazed areas were made of solidly colored clay. Frequently the harder or lighter burning gave great play of tone to these surfaces, often running from a light, greenish-blue to a deep dull blue in the same tile. My friend and associate, the late Horace J. Caulkins, collaborated with me in this work. When we surveyed the completed task, we felt what I trust was a pardonable satisfaction. While ignoring many long-established conventions in paving, we had been able to maintain consistently the spirit of the Gothic period of which the Church is so splendid an example."4

Materials Used/Technical Information (size, manufacturer, etc.):
Handmade Pewabic Pottery tiles. Pewabic began to make handmade tiles because "...[Mary Chase] Perry was convinced the company should expand its horizons. Her friend and future husband, architect William Stratton, was working on a residential project in the Detroit area, and looking for new materials with which to decorate the home’s fireplace. Stratton gave the commission to Perry’s small company, and the result was a new direction for Pewabic. Architectural tiles became a large part of the business, and the founders began to consider expansion and the construction of a larger workspace. William Stratton designed the Tudor Revival studio built on East Jefferson Street in 1907, where Pewabic Pottery continues to operate today."5
Year Created:
about 1907
Does Installation Still Exist?
Yes, and St. Paul's is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Location of Installation:
4800 Woodward Avenue
Detroit, Michigan 48201
Additional Information, Websites, Citations:

3http://tileresearcharticles.omeka.net/items/show/12 (just scroll down to "Files" and click on the pdf)

More photos of the Cathedral tilework can be found at:
Color photos,below, taken in 1995 by Michael Padwee.
Submitted by and Year:
Submitted by Michael Padwee (tileback101'at'collector.org) in May 2012.