New Jersey Terra Cotta

The Potteries of Trenton Society (POTS) is pleased to announce its association with the New Jersey State Museum in the development and presentation of our fourth symposium on New Jersey ceramics, New Jersey Terra Cotta: Building an Industry on Clay. This year’s symposium will be held Saturday, April 21, 2007, in the State Museum’s Auditorium at 205 West State Street, Trenton. Speakers will explore New Jersey’s clay resources, terra cotta manufacturing in the state, and its use on buildings in New York City, Philadelphia, and Trenton.

This year’s symposium examines the contribution of New Jersey’s important terra cotta makers to urban skylines in the region. Forty-eight companies operated in the U.S. during the period of terra cotta’s greatest popularity (1880-1930), and New Jersey had the largest concentration of terra-cotta manufacturers. Outstanding clay deposits, proximity to markets, and a wide variety of transportation options all contributed to this industrial prominence.

Architectural terra cotta is extraordinarily adaptable as a building material. It can be molded, sculpted, and glazed to imitate all sorts of other materials or used for its own characteristics. Architects in the early 1900s thought it a superior medium because of its longevity, imperviousness, color, and imitative qualities. It was also lighter and cheaper than stone. Most of the architectural terra cotta made in New Jersey was used as ornamental cladding on skyscrapers, but it was also found useful for grave markers, hitching posts, carriage blocks, chimney pots, and statuary.

Program Schedule

9:30 am Registration and Light Refreshments
10 am Welcome
10:15-12:30 pm Lectures with questions following each presentation.
Peter Sugarman, Clay Resources of the New Jersey Coastal Plain
Richard Veit, ‘A Piece of Granite Made in Two Weeks’: An Overview of New Jersey’s Architectural Terra Cotta Industry
Mark Nonestied, Uncommon Clay: Salvaging New Jersey’s Terra Cotta Past
Susan Tunick, Terra Cotta Treasures: Buildings in and Around New York
12:30-2:00 pm Box Lunch
2:00-3:00 pm Ellen Denker, Evidence of Trenton’s Tile & Terra Cotta Makers
Tour of Trenton-made tile installations in the New Jersey State House.

Driving Tour of Trenton tile & terra cotta buildings included with registration packets.