Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Terra Cotta

Architectural terracotta was very popular with New Orleans architects. After the Civil War, notices for the material proliferated in local publications. Earliest mentions largely related to roofing materials. In July 1873, B.J. West and Thomas S. Elder placed an advertisement for their Patent Roofing Tile Company in The Daily Picayune (shown above).
Frederic Codman Ford (1856-1922) became a local agent for the Chicago-based Northwestern Terra Cotta Company. His clients included Allison Owen, Collins C. Diboll, Thomas Sully, Emile Weil, Moise Goldstein, Rathbone DeBuys, Favrot & Livaudais, Andry & Bendernagel and Toledano & Wogan.  Architects requesting the company's red, brown and buff terracotta received shipments via the Illinois Central Railroad.

In the early twentieth century, terracotta designs by architects proliferated in the pages of The Brickbuilder, a trade journal founded in Boston.

Notable published designs by New Orleans architects are included below. See if you can find them on buildings in the Crescent City and Opelousas.

Records of the Northwestern Terra Cotta Company are located at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. 

In 1906, the Ludowici Roofing Tile Company (also based in Chicago) established an office and warehouse in New Orleans due to the large amount of material that it was shipping to Panama. Ludowici's traveling sales representative J.D. Duffy was reassigned to the permanent position.(1) The bunglow community at Derby Place (Third Municipal District) utilized the company's tiles. Architect-clients included Walter Cook Keenan (1881-1970), who specified the tiles for the Jones Residence at 20 Neron Place (1923) and his apartment building at Carrollton Avenue and Green Street. Ludowici roofing was adopted for the Hugh L. White residence in Columbia, Mississippi and the Charles Ledet residence in Houma, Louisiana.(2)

The Southeastern Architectural Archive maintains a number of Ludowici catalogs, now digitized via the Internet Archive's Building Technology Heritage Library

Other architectural terracotta suppliers who maintained a New Orleans presence include the following:

St. Louis Terra Cotta Co. (St. Louis), Frank Bethune, agent. 808 Perdido Street (1919).

Federal Terra Cotta Co. (New York), J.T. Mann & Company, agents. 909 Union Street (1919).

Atlantic Terra Cotta Co. (New York), Ole K. Olsen, agent. 822 Perdido Street (1920).

[See Building Review (1913-1922) for listings of local agents for various architectural trade concerns].

New Orleans structures with notable terracotta include:

Pere Marquette (817 Common Street)  -- American Terra Cotta & Ceramic Company 

Maison Blanche (901 Canal Street)  -- Atlantic Terra Cotta Company

American Bank & Trust Company (200 Carondelet Street) -- Federal Terra Cotta Company

Louisiana Supreme Court building (400 Royal Street) -- Atlantic Terra Cotta Company

Lyons building (224 Camp Street) -- Northwestern Terra Cotta Company

Morris building (600 Canal Street) -- Northwestern Terra Cotta Company

Tulane building (211 Camp Street) -- Northwestern Terra Cotta Company

Grunewald Caterers (926-28 Canal Street) -- Northwestern Terra Cotta Company

(1)"Another Northern Firm Establishing Offices." The Times-Picayune 1 January 1906. 

(2)"New Orleans Greatest Tile Center: Roofs May Rival Old World Cities." The Times-Picayune 23 May 1926.

Images above:

Top four:  Advertisements, The Daily Picayune. 23 July 1872; 30 March 1887; 19 September 1888; The Times-Picayune 1 September 1903.

Bottom seven:  All from The Brickbuilder (1901-1910). Architects, from top to bottom:  Andry & Bendernagel; Diboll, Owen & Goldstein; Favrot & Livaudais; Favrot & Livaudais; Toledano & Wogan; Toledano & Wogan; Toledano & Wogan.


Thomas Rosell said...

Gustav Hottinger, President of The Northwestern Terra Cotta had a vacation home in Ocean Springs, MS he acquired from Louis Sullivan in 1910. Sullivan had put his home up as collateral but lost it when he could not repay the loan from Hottinger.

Keli Rylance said...

Fascinating! Northwestern really dominated the NOLA market for nearly 3 decades.

Thomas Rosell said...

The three decades were the 1880's, 90's and 00's? Not sure when Hottinger became President of Northwestern Terra Cotta. Post 1890 perhaps?

Keli Rylance said...

In totality, NW's NOLA presence is well documented from the late 1880s through the 19-teens.. but NW had more competition during the teens.

The National Labor Tribune indicates that Hottinger started the concern in 1878 with two of his associates, and that he turned it over to his "older employees" in 1923. [National Labor Tribune 2.08.1923]

Thomas Rosell said...

While the house was destroyed by Katrina, some NW terra cotta bricks used as garden edging remain. Perhaps carried there by Mr. Hottinger himself?
Hottinger's wife Katherina died in their Ocean Springs home. The family owned the house for another 11 years after her passing.
The Daily Herald, "Mrs. Hottinger dies", March 31, 1932, p. 5.

Keli Rylance said...

What does the remaining terracotta look like?