Trenton Driving Tour

Visit Selected Tile & Terra Cotta Sites in Trenton

1 Kelsey Building

Kelsey Building (Thomas Edison State College)
101 West State Street & Willow/ Barrack Streets
Cass Gilbert, architect, 1910

Mueller Mosaic Company tiles (note especially the tiles around the doorway)

The building was named originally for New Jersey’s Secretary of State (1870- 1897), Henry C. Kelsey, who donated it as a memorial to his wife. Many of the artisans in Trenton’s ceramics industry were educated in this building when it was the Trenton School of Industrial Arts. The faculty included many of the leading artists and mechanics in the business, such as tile master Herman Carl Mueller, who was a trustee of the school, and Lenox China’s long- time chief designer Frank Holmes. Walter Scott Lenox was one of the school’s founders. Architect Cass Gilbert copied Florence’s Strozzi Palace and Mueller’s tile motifs were derived appropriately from Renaissance ornament.

2 War Memorial

War Memorial
War Memorial Opera House
Memorial Drive
William A. Klemann & Louis S. Kaplan, architects, 1932

Ceiling of Memorial Court, Mueller Mosaic Company

Built originally to honor the soldiers and sailors of Mercer County who died in World War I, the War Memorial today honors all men and women of the region who sacrificed their lives in global conflicts. With its large theater and several meeting rooms, the building has been a backdrop for presidents, governors, ballerinas, musicians and maestros from around the world. Pass through the stone columns and look at the glazed tile ceiling by Mueller Mosaic Company. Today, the War Memorial is owned by the State of New Jersey and administered by the Department of State.

3 Assunpink River Bridge

Assunpink River Bridge
Assunpink River Bridge

Mueller Mosaic Company tiles decorate the bridge

4 Broad Street Bank

Broad Street Bank
Broad Street National Bank
East State & North Broad Streets
William Poland, architect, 1900, 1913 & 1923

Atlantic Terra Cotta

Trenton’s first skyscraper, the bank was constructed in three phases: an eight- story structure in the style of Louis Sullivan in 1900, a twelve- story addition in 1913, and an eight- story addition in 1923. The building is also Trenton’s first steel superstructure housing the city’s first elevator and first revolving doors. Recently renovated and restored, it is also the first historic structure in the U. S. renovated according to Green Building Code standards for energy efficiency.

5 Crescent Temple

Crescent Temple
Mosque of the Crescent Shrine Temple
North Clinton & Wall Streets
Walter Hankin and J. Osborne Hunt, architects, 1929

Mueller Mosaic Company tile in vestibule and stairway Terra cotta maker unidentified
The great Mosque of the Crescent Shrine Temple was designed by one of its members, Walter Hankin, after careful study of Moorish architecture in Spain and North Africa. While many decorative details of the building are based on this study, its general mass and shape grew from the requirements of this national fraternal organization that raises money for children’s medical care. Expected to hold 4, 000 Shriners, the building was richly constructed with Wurtemburg limestone from Elwood City, Ohio, Italian Travertine marble and American walnut. Vitreous floor tile was supplied by Crescent Tile Co, the face and common brick came from the New Jersey Brick and Supply Co, and the plumbing equipment was Maddock Durock. Although Mueller Mosaic Company is identified as the source of the faience tiles, the maker of the terra cotta ornament remains unidentified.

6 Skelton Branch

Skelton Branch
Skelton Branch of Trenton Public Library
943 South Broad Street at Malone
P. L. Fowler Company, architects, 1929

Mueller Mosaic Company tiles in Children’s Department
This charming Georgian- style red brick building was the first to be built as a branch of the Trenton Public Library. The Mueller Mosaic tiled fireplace on the second floor is a focal point of the children’s department.

7 St. Mary’s Church

St. Mary’s Church
Saint Mary’s Byzantine Catholic Church,
Grand & Malone Streets
Architect unknown, 1914

Mueller Mosaic Company
Note the tile Madonna in the pediment. The terra cotta rondel in the porch ceiling was made by Mueller Mosaic Company.

8 Domestic Arts Building

Domestic Arts Building
Domestic Arts and the Motor Exhibit Buildings
New Jersey Inter- State Fairgrounds
18 Fairgrounds Road
Architects unknown, 1920s

Mueller Mosaic Company tiles
The Inter- State Fairs drew large crowds to view livestock, agricultural products, farming equipment, culinary arts and needlework. Midway attractions included daredevil stunts, horse races, demonstrations of horsemanship, parachutists, auto racing, and death defying shows of aerial navigation. Today, this site is called the Grounds for Sculpture and houses, among other things, the new Seward Johnson Center for the Arts. Indoor exhibitions of emerging and well known artists are held throughout the year. The Grounds for Sculpture also offers water features, gardens, and a restaurant. The site was redesigned by Brian Carey of AC/ BC Associates of New York City. Facades of the original Fairgrounds buildings are decorated with Mueller Mosaic Company tiles. There is a $5 charge for entering the grounds.

9 Trenton City Museum

Trenton City Museum
Trenton City Museum, Ellarslie Mansion
Cadwalader Park
Architect: John Notman, 1848

Exhibitions of Interest: Trent Tile Master Molds; Permanent exhibition on the history of Trenton’s pottery industry
Built as an Italianate villa and summer residence for Philadelphian Henry McCall Sr., the building was acquired by the City of Trenton in 1888 along with the surrounding eighty acres, which became the city’s first public park. Cadwalader Park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the father of American landscape architecture, who also designed Central Park in New York City. The Trenton City Museum, opened in Ellarslie Mansion in 1978, houses a fine collection of art and artifacts related to Trenton’s historical and cultural past and present. The Trenton Museum Society was given a large group of Trent Tile master molds in 1984 by the Wenczel family after employees of the Wenczel Tile Company found them accidentally during renovations at the old tile factory.

Potteries of Trenton Society

Text and photos provided by Ellen Denker and Brenda Springsted; layout and design by Patricia Madrigal. © 2007