A blog about architectural tiles, terra cotta and other ceramic surfaces, architectural glass and ornamentation in and around New York.

Friday, September 1, 2017

The Polychrome Terra Cotta of Childs Restaurants and the Nottingham Antique Tile Fair

The Polychrome Terra Cotta of the Childs Restaurants

My last blog post in June contained a news article about an exhibit of Childs Restaurant artifacts and history in Coney Island.(1) Over the summer I revisited the restaurant building on the Coney Island boardwalk at West 21st Street, and I also visited an exhibit at the Coney Island Museum [but not the exhibit at the Coney Island History Project in the article]. The Childs building was granted landmark status in 2003, but it had not functioned as a restaurant for many years, and the building had been abandoned, off and on, since about 1960.

The Childs Restaurant chain, which grew to be one of the largest restaurant chains in the country with 107 restaurants in 33 cities in the United States and Canada by 1925, was founded in 1889 by the brothers William and Samuel Childs. Childs Restaurants were originally intended to provide a basic, clean environment for wholesome food at reasonable prices. The two brothers learned the restaurant business by working for A.W. Dennett (2), owner of several restaurants in New York, Philadelphia and Boston. The first Childs Restaurant in New York was opened on Cortlandt Street in Lower Manhattan. “They borrowed Dennett's idea of placing a chef in the window, preparing flapjacks, as a way to advertise their business. They also started to furnish their restaurants with white-tiled walls and floors, white marble table-tops, and waitresses dressed in starched white uniforms, to convey cleanliness.”(3)

The tiled interior of Childs Restaurant on Park Row in Lower Manhattan illustrating the tiled walls and columns. (Plate XXXVI from an Associated Tile Manufacturers publication. Collection of Michael Padwee)

In 2008 the building that housed one of the first Childs Restaurants in downtown New York was razed as part of the post-9/11 reconstruction of the area. David W. Dunlap, a photographer and columnist for the New York Times, captured the last remnants of that restaurant by taking a photo of its tiled mosaic floor through a fence just before its demolition.

The flagship of the Childs Restaurant chain in New York was the Coney Island restaurant, built in 1923. It "replaced" 
the original Childs Restaurant which opened in 1917 on Surf Avenue at West 12th Street and remained in business until 1943.(4) The architectural firm of Dennison & Hirons (5, 6) designed the new Boardwalk Childs Restaurant.

A picture post card, c. 1920s, depicting Childs Restaurant on the Boardwalk. (Courtesy of cardcow.com

William and Samuel Childs grew up on a large, prosperous farm in the northeastern part of Bernards Township, New Jersey in Somerset County. William was born c. 1865, and Samuel was two years older. The two brothers worked hard on the farm, as well as in the wheat fields in Dakota as young men. While on this trip to the West, the brothers ate in many places that served less than wholesome food. William later related, “We used to talk about how nice it would be if restaurants only used good home recipes, and if they were as spotlessly clean as the kitchen and dining-room on our farm.”

(Photo from: Merle Crowell, “Two Country Boys Who Serve 45,000,000 Meals a Year”, The American Magazine, Vol. XCII, No. 5, November 1921)

Samuel gave up a career as a civil engineer to work for A.J. Dennett in his restaurant on Park Row in Manhattan, and Samuel convinced William to work with him. While working for Dennett, the brothers studied the operation of the restaurant closely, and became determined to open their own restaurant. When they were fired six months later, they opened a restaurant--using $1600 they had saved, and their mother’s recipes--at 41 Cortlandt Street in Manhattan.

An undated true-photo picture post card of an unidentified Childs Restaurant showing the female wait staff in their white dresses.

“After losing their lease at this site, the brothers opened another restaurant on Cortlandt Street, which was a success, and within five years had five operating restaurants in Manhattan. When asked what they gave to the public that made them successful, William noted that the food was as close to home cooking as possible, and[, in later years,] was varied according to region; the restaurants were kept absolutely clean, had white tiled walls and white marble tables; they were well-lighted with large glass fronts and electric and gas lighting; they all had exhaust fans and smelled clean; they hired neatly dressed, intelligent young women to be waitresses; and the restaurants were well-situated.”(7) “This unique emphasis on food safety and hygiene—coupled with other features, such as being one of the first cafeteria-style restaurants—made Childs Restaurants very profitable... .”(8) 

In William’s words,(9)  

Although the Childs brothers did not invent the idea of the cafeteria, their contribution to the concept of personal food delivery was the tray. “Around 1898 the two brothers converted their restaurant at 130 Broadway [in Manhattan] into a self-service counter. They created a new format by introducing trays on which their customers could carry food to the tables and implementing a delivery system based on the tray line. There wouldn’t be a cafeteria history without trays.”(10) In 1953 the Childs organization introduced a take-home food department in their 34th Street restaurant in response, partially, to the changing role of women in the workforce. “Among the foods offered in the new department are several types of salad, beef pie, baked beans, chicken pot pie, beef stew, lamb stew, pastry, rolls, muffins, other baked goods and Savarin ice cream.”(11)  

The interior of a Childs Restaurant in Philadelphia, c. 1908. The cafeteria-style self-service table with trays is towards the right rear of this picture post card. (PPC by The Platinachrome Company, 23 Duane Street, New York, NY (defunct) - Original is owned by Robert B. Hendrick Jr. (uploader's personal collection), PD-US, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22610874)

Other innovations made by the Childs brothers were in the area of social welfare:(12)  

William acknowledged that “location is the biggest factor, physical equipment comes second, and management is third. ...The ideal location taps a great traffic artery along which people are constantly moving to shop, transact business, see the sights, and attend the theatres.”
(13) The Childs brothers adhered to this maxim when they chose West 21st Street and the Coney Island's Boardwalk as the site of their new Brooklyn flagship restaurant. The Coney Island Boardwalk was one of the busiest pedestrian and tourist thoroughfares in the city at the time. A nautical theme was chosen for the restaurant, and it would serve seafood dishes along with the regular fare.

A crowded Coney Island boardwalk on a cold day in c. 1925. (Photo by the International Newsreel Corporation; http://collections.mcny.org/Collection/[Coney Island boardwalk.]-2F3XC5IKXU8K.html) 

In 2003 this building was granted individual landmark status by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. “Its plain stucco facade serves as a background for elaborate terra cotta ornamentation, including seashells, wriggling fish, grimacing gargoyles heads, sailing ships and the sea god Neptune. ‘The former Childs Restaurant building is a wonderful reminder of the days when Coney Island was considered ‘the world’s largest playground,’ said Robert B. Tierney, Chair of the Landmarks Preservation Commission.”(14) 

“Most of the early Childs Restaurants were set in narrow storefronts designed in an ‘austerely-elegant’ style, with white tile, mirrors, bentwood furniture and exposed ceiling fans, to complement and also to represent the simplicity and purity of the food. In the 1920s however, other designs began to be used, each suited to the individual placement of the stores. ...The Childs Restaurant on the Boardwalk at Coney Island was one of the first from this company to adapt the design to the building’s specific location. Built just after the completion of the subway which was to bring huge crowds of New Yorkers to the area, the Coney Island outlet of Childs, with its elaborate and colorful ornament, was designed to fit this resort location.”(15)

The architects, Ethan Allen Dennison and Frederick Charles Hirons (see Note 5) were chosen by the Childs brothers to design this boardwalk restaurant. The brothers lived in Bernardsville, New Jersey, and probably knew of the architects’ work there. Dennison and Hirons designed the Bernardsville Methodist Episcopal Church project in 1913. Dennison and Hirons “usually designed their buildings in either a restrained classical or Art Deco style. At Coney Island, however, they created a building in a style that was quite different from their other work, but appropriate for this setting. The Childs Restaurant on the Boardwalk was designed in a resort style to go along with the existing ‘unique fairyland environments for dreamers.’ 

Coney Island Boardwalk at Night, c. 1906. (Photo from the collection of the Museum of the City of New York)

Coney Island was “an area filled with an eye-popping array of shapes, colors and lights, a building had to be unusual to attract customers. The amusement parks set the tone, with huge plaster figures, large structures with unexpected shapes, and thousands of twinkling lights beckoning patrons. Other businesses sought to create their own sense of uniqueness, adding towers and turrets, colors, and roof gardens. On the Childs Restaurant building, the colorful terra-cotta ornament in unique maritime motifs, as well as its large size and fine design helped it stand out from the many flimsy shacks nearby which accommodated the area’s various entertainments.”(16)    

A derelict Childs Restaurant (Boardwalk and 21st Street) in 2010. The pergola is gone, but much of the terra cotta ornamentation remains, but not in good condition. (Photo credit: The Coney Island Blog, “The Boardwalk – Updated 3/3/10”; https://coneyislandplayground oftheworld.wordpress.com/2009/02/07/the-boardwalk/

“Dennison & Hirons were well-versed in classical design principles, and they used this system as a base for the Childs building, framing windows and doors with moldings and swags, crowning end piers with urns, and decorating arch spandrels with rondels. 

"There are four types of expertly modeled rondels by Maxfield H. Keck (17) depicting: 1. Neptune holding a trident, and dripping with seaweed. 2. A Venetian galleon with streaming pennants. 3. The Golden Hind, the Flagship of Queen Elizabeth’s Fleet. 4. A pair of fish swimming in the rough ocean waters." ("Childs Restaurant 21st Street and the Boardwalk Coney Island, Brooklyn, NY Dennison & Hirons, Architects 1923", Friends of Terra Cotta, p. 2; http://www.preserve.org/fotc/infochilds.htm; photos credit: Michael Padwee)

“The difference is that within this framework, the ornament is composed of an agglomeration of seashells, wriggling fish in high-spirited poses, grimacing gargoyle heads, sailing ships and the sea god Neptune, many draped with dripping seaweed.

Childs Boardwalk Restaurant building, June 2017. (Photo: Michael Padwee)

“Originally, large arched openings along the Boardwalk and the West 21st Street facade framed huge windows that enabled restaurant patrons to enjoy views of the ocean and the passing crowds.

The arched openings, restored pergola, marble columns and terra cotta ornamentation of the boardwalk facade. (Photos: Michael Padwee)

“These arches were supported by multi-colored marble columns topped with “Ionic” capitals composed of fish and seashells rendered in terra cotta. Terra-cotta moldings, also with curving fish and cockle shells, border the arches where traditional egg and dart moldings would have been. ...Set low against the Boardwalk, the Childs Restaurant building appears to have one double-height story. 

The restored pergola (2017) with terra cotta details. (Photos: Michael Padwee)

“Originally, it was topped by a roof garden with a pergola above the main restaurant. Indications of this are evident today in the bracketed posts encrusted with terra-cotta fish and shells, which project above the main story. 

Terra cotta ornamentation surrounding an ogee opening. (Photo: Michael Padwee)

The 21st Street facade, June 2017. (Photo: Michael Padwee)

“...Along the West 21st Street side, the building is three stories high. It extends along 21st Street for 14 bays, including end bays which have blocked-in rectangular openings and rise higher at the roof level to form piers for the original roof garden.”(18)   

21st Street window (2013 and 2017) and terra cotta details (2017). (Photo credits: 2013 window-Tricia Vita; 2017 window and details-Michael Padwee)

An interior wall with three re-discovered terra cotta rondels not seen for 65 years. (UR) A view of the Childs facade from the Boardwalk; (LL) A gondola in Venice; (LR) Bathers on the Coney Island beach. (Photo credits: Omar Robau; https://www.flickr.com/photos/coneyhop/sets/72157600996640617/with/893165396/

The terra cotta ornamentation on, and in, the building was produced by the Atlantic Terra Cotta Company of Perth Amboy, New Jersey. It is possible that Dennison & Hirons had a long-standing professional relationship with Atlantic Terra Cotta as the architects used Atlantic products on a number of their projects. (see Note 5)  

The Childs’ boardwalk restaurant has gone through many changes since it opened in 1923. “During the Coney Island’s catastrophic boardwalk blaze of 1932, for example, the fire-proof Childs Restaurant served as a fire break..., preventing the flames from causing even more destruction. The beloved restaurant was eventually shuttered in the 1950s, as Coney Island’s amusement district began to decline, and the building languished, dark and unmaintained, until it was finally landmarked in 2002.[sic, 2003] In 2008, the Childs was briefly reinvented as a disco-themed roller rink. But the once bustling attraction was never really brought back to its original glory...,”(19) until this year.

”An octopus, crabs, and shells adorn a recreated column detail from the original Childs Restaurant nautical façade.” (From: “Hand Finished & Glazed Terra Cotta Units Breathe New Life into Seaside”, Boston Valley Terra Cotta Company Blog, October 21, 2016; http://bostonvalley.com/hand-finished-glazed-terracotta-breathe-new-life-into-seaside/)

The Childs Restaurant on the Coney Island boardwalk has undergone a total restoration. Much of the original terra cotta ornamentation was replicated and hand-painted by the Boston Valley Terra-Cotta Company in Buffalo, New York.(20) 

Even though the building was restored, a number of the original terra cotta pieces had to be rescued from the construction site. The Coney Island Museum was invited to the construction site and was given the opportunity to obtain and preserve some of those pieces.

Three rondels rescued from the construction site: Poseiden, a square-rigged carrack, and bathers enjoying the beach. All three were damaged. The fourth rondel, two fish and a water spout, was a reconstruction by the Boston Valley Terra Cotta Company that was donated to the museum. These are all about 48" in diameter. (Courtesy of the Coney Island Museum; photo credits: Michael Padwee)

Some of the other rescued terra cotta ornamentation made by the Atlantic Terra Cotta Company are a lobster, a snail, crabs and seashells. (Courtesy of the Coney Island Museum; photo credits: Michael Padwee)

The Childs building is now a combination venue: The Ford Amphitheater, and a restaurant, Kitchen 21. Although the interior has been “modernized”, it still looks similar to its heyday past.

A 1924 photo of the interior (Courtesy of ConeyIslandHistory.org), and a contemporary interior view (Courtesy of Kitchen 21; photo: Michael Padwee)

As mentioned above, by 1925 there were 107 Childs Restaurants throughout the United States and Canada. Although the Childs brothers lost control of the organization by the end of the 1930s when their investors revolted over food policies, the Childs Restaurant chain remained in business until 1961 when it was sold to the Riese Organization. 

In the New York City metropolitan area there were more than just the few restaurants mentioned in lower Manhattan and Coney Island, and a number of the old Childs’ buildings still exist today. All have been repurposed, some are covered with signs of varying sizes, but many still retain some of their original polychrome terra cotta ornamentation (except for the Bensonhurst Childs below).

"Interestingly, as the Childs Restaurant Corporation expanded into neighborhoods throughout the city, they developed a 'signature style' used for many of the restaurants. Their one-story buildings were often clad in terra cotta and ornamented with a beltcourse of pairs of intertwined seahorses. The corners of these structures often featured a huge shell with a dolphin in the center."(21)

The main terra cotta ornament, 74 in.H x 48 in.W x 14 in.D, from the Bensonhurst (Brooklyn) Childs Restaurant at 6620 18th Avenue, which was recently demolished. (Courtesy of Olde Good Things Architectural Salvage, Photo credit: Michael Padwee)

“Among Queens’ most intact branches of Childs are 59-37 Queens Boulevard in Woodside and 36-01 Broadway in Astoria. ...Notable façade features include shells with centered dolphins, intertwined seahorses, gargoyles, shields, a Neptune holding a trident, and curved parapets topped off with urns.”(22)    

59-37 Queens Boulevard (above; from Michael Perlman and the Rego-Forest Preservation Council; https://www.flickr.com/photos/8095451@N08/) and 36-01 Broadway (below), both designed with a nautical theme.. (Courtesy of Google Maps)

15-02 College Point Boulevard (above) and 63-19 Roosevelt Avenue (below), both also designed with a nautical theme. (Courtesy of Google Maps)

67-09 Fresh Pond Road, in a nautical theme, also seems fairly well preserved. (Courtesy of Google Maps)

26 S. Highland Avenue, Ossining, New York is one of the existing metropolitan area Childs buildings.

Only two of the original Childs buildings in the city have been given the protection of Landmark status--both are in Coney Island. Preservationists across the City are beginning to push for landmark status for some of the other Childs’ buildings, especially those in Queens.


I would like to thank the manager and staff of Kitchen 21 for their help and forbearance during a busy lunch hour. Also, thanks to Tricia Vita the author of Amusing the Zillion blog for the use of her photo. Special thanks to Lisa Mangels-Schaefer, Acting Curator of the Coney Island Museum, for the tour and permission to use the photos I took, and also to Susan Tunick, Chair of the Friends of Terra Cotta, for the use of her Atlantic Terra Cotta Magazine IX (1928).


Childs Restaurants: Preserving History & Landmarking”, a public group on Facebook.

Interior photos of the Boardwalk Childs Building prior to its restoration.

Cindy R. Lobel, “How restaurant culture changed the way we eat,” New York Post, May 10, 2014; http://nypost.com/2014/05/10/how-nyc-restaurant-culture-changed-the-way-we-eat/.

"Terra Cotta Work of Dennison & Hirons, Architects," Atlantic Terra Cotta Magazine IX (June, 1928).

“(FORMER) CHILDS RESTAURANT BUILDING, 2102 Boardwalk”, NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission Designation Report; http://www.nyc.gov/html/lpc/downloads/pdf/reports/childs.pdf

Amusing the Zillion blog; https://amusingthezillion.com, and https://amusingthezillion.com/2013/06/07/coney-flea-market-coming-to-childs-building-on-boardwalk/

Charles Denson, Coney Island Lost and Found, Ten Speed Press, Berkeley/Toronto, 2002.

The Friends of Terra Cotta Newsletter, Fall, 2017. (FOTC is planning to highlight the Boardwalk Childs Restaurant and its restoration in the Fall issue.)

The Coney Island History Projecthttp://www.coneyislandhistory.org

The Coney Island Museum,


1. http://tilesinnewyork.blogspot.com/2017/06/art-deco-commercial-architecture.html. The article about Child’s Coney Island Restaurant is at the end of the blog.

2. Alfred W. Dennett went from driving a Broadway street car to opening a restaurant on Park Row in Manhattan. He opened a coffee and cake room in the old Herald Building, and also sold “sinkers,” which were essentially doughnuts that derived their name from a heavy dose of lard and butter. Dennett provided good service, a wide variety of inexpensive foods, and a clean and religious environment, where the walls were decorated with religious sayings. (Cindy R. Lobel, “How restaurant culture changed the way we eat,” New York Post, May 10, 2014; http://nypost.com/2014/05/10/how-nyc-restaurant-culture-changed-the-way-we-eat/ and Charles Austin Bates, “Charles Austin Bates’ Criticisms,” Current Advertising, Volume II, Number 3, September 1897, p. 133)

Childs' take on sinkers was the “butter cake”, which consisted of thick rounds of griddled yeast dough that fell somewhere between a biscuit and an English muffin on the baked goods spectrum. The name is something of a mystery, considering butter cake dough contains just a small amount of its namesake fat. They were eaten, however, with a large dolop of butter on top--thus, probably, the name. (Leah Koenig, “Lost Foods of New York City: Butter cakes from Childs Restaurant”, Politico New York, 01/06/2012; http://www.politico.com/states/new-york/albany/story/2012/01/lost-foods-of-new-york-city-butter-cakes-from-childs-restaurant-067223)

3. Virginia Kurshan, NYC LPC Research Department, “(FORMER) CHILDS RESTAURANT BUILDING, 2102 Boardwalk (aka 3052-3078 West 21st Street), Brooklyn”, Landmarks Preservation Commission, February 4, 2003, Designation List 344, LP-2106, pp. 1, 2.

4. The NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission recently gave landmark status to the building at West 12th Street and Surf Avenue which the LPC listed as the original Surf Avenue Childs Restaurant. Designed by the architect, John Corley Westervelt, it functioned as a Childs Restaurant from 1917-1943. “After the [Surf Avenue] restaurant closed in 1943, it was occupied by the Bluebird Casino, various nightclubs, and David Rosen’s Wonderland Circus Sideshow. ...Coney Island USA currently owns the building, which is occupied by the Coney Island Museum.” (“Iconic Coney Island Theater and Restaurant Designated,” CITYLAND, 02/15/2011; http://www.citylandnyc.org/iconic-coney-island-theater-and-restaurant-designated/)

The original Childs Surf Avenue Restaurant. The Coney Island Museum is on the second floor. (2017 photo: Michael Padwee)

According to the Cornell Alumni News of 1917, John Corley Westervelt (1872-1934) worked in the offices of Carrere & Hastings and Bruce Price from his graduation from the Cornell School of Architecture in 1894, until he began his own, independent practice in 1897. “He was the architect of various hospitals and other buildings for the City of New York and has designed many commercial and residential buildings... .” (“Four Nominees for the Two Alumni Trusteeships”, Cornell Alumni News, Vol. XIX, No. 26, April 5, 1917, p. 308)

“In his design and construction efforts, William Childs and his internal architect of 30 years, John Corley Westervelt, consulted and engaged respected architects including William Van Alen (modernist designer of the Chrysler Building), Hirons & Dennison, Pruitt & Brown, and McKim, Mead, and White. One design critique from 1924 declared that Childs '...stands as a milestone marking an enormous advance in the taste of what we are pleased to describe as the ‘common people’ of America.’ In more recent years, celebrated architect Robert A.M. Stern described the Childs design as ‘austerely-elegant’, and recognized their savvy in tailoring design to environment... .”  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Childs_Restaurants)

5. “The partnership of Ethan Allen Dennison and Frederick Charles Hirons, which was formed in 1910 and lasted until 1929, usually specialized in mid-rise office buildings, and normally worked in either a restrained classical or Art Deco style; but the firm was also responsible for designing several of the Childs Restaurants... .

Ethan Allen Dennison (1881-1954) was born in Summit, New Jersey, studied architecture at the Godfrey Architectural Preparatory School and the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, afterward entering the office of Trowbridge & Livingston in New York in 1905. After the dissolution of his partnership with Hirons in 1929, Dennison headed his own New York firm and designed numerous banks in Connecticut, Philadelphia, and Delaware. He won the Medal of Honor of the Society of Diploma Architects of France and was a member of the Beaux Arts Society of New York, as well as the American Society of the French Legion of Honor.

Frederick Charles Hirons (1883-1942) came to the United States from England as a youth. He graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and received the Rotch scholarship, after which he went to Paris to study at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. He won the Paris Prize in 1906, which allowed him to continue his studies and travel in Europe through 1909. Hirons taught architecture at Columbia University, and was a founder of the Beaux Arts Institute of Design. It was his design for the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design in New York that won the competition for the Dennison & Hirons firm. Polychrome terra cotta panels were a prominent feature in that building's facade, and the firm was recognized for its terra cotta work in 1928 when an entire issue of Atlantic Terra Cotta Magazine was devoted to the partners' work ["Terra Cotta Work of Dennison & Hirons, Architects," Atlantic Terra Cotta Magazine IX (June, 1928)]. After 1929, Hirons formed a partnership with F. W. Mellor for two years and later practiced on his own until 1940. He designed many public buildings, including the war memorials at Worcester, Massachusetts and Vincennes, Indiana.” (United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places Continuation Sheet, “Olcott Avenue Historic District Somerset County, NJ,” NRIS Reference Number 09000940, Date Listed, 11/20/2009; https://npgallery.nps.gov/GetAsset?assetID=6c6f10d7-e810-47d4-9e40-aedb474534fa

One of two pages in the Atlantic Terra Cotta Magazine IX, June 1928 that illustrate Dennison & Hirons' Childs Boardwalk Restaurant in Brooklyn. (Courtesy of Susan Tunick and the Friends of Terra Cotta)

7. Merle Crowell, “Two Country Boys Who Serve 45,000,000 Meals a Year”, The American Magazine, Vol. XCII, No. 5, November 1921, pp. 14-15, 106, 108, 110; and Edwin Wildman, Famous Leaders of Industry, The Page Company, Boston, Massachusetts, 1921, pp. 41+.

8. Elizabeth Yuko, “America's Obsession With Restaurant Food Safety Dates Back to 1889,” CityLab; https://www.citylab.com/ navigator/2016/02/childs-restaurant-food-safety-sanitation-hygiene/459762/.

9. Wildman, p. 44.

10. Amy Zuber, “William & Samuel Childs,” Nation’s Restaurant News, 1996;

11. “The 1904 Facelift of No. 36 West 34th Street”, Daytonian in Manhattan blog, January 18, 2014; http://daytoninmanhattan. blogspot.com/2014/01/the-1904-facelift-of-no-36-west-34th.html.

12. Wildman, pp. 45-46.

13. Crowell, p. 110.

14. News Release, “LANDMARKS PRESERVATION COMMISSION DESIGNATES CHILDS RESTAURANT IN CONEY ISLAND,” [February 4, 2003]; http://www.nyc.gov/html/lpc/downloads/pdf/press/02_04_03.pdf.

15. Virginia Kurshan, NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, pp. 2-3.

16. Ibid., p. 4.

17. Maxfield H. Keck (born c. 1880, Germany-1943, New Jersey) lived in Montclair, New Jersey. He was well known for his architectural sculpture and models, done for grandly-scaled public and private commissions, including the Riverside Church, New York, NY; the New York Telephone Building, New York, NY; the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New York, NY; the Public Safety and Court Building, Milwaukee, WI; the Atkinson Museum of Fine Arts, Kansas City, MO; and the Art-Deco bas relief sculptures on the exterior of Union Terminal in Cincinnati, OH. 

The facade and one of Maxfied Keck's sculptures on Union Terminal in Cincinnati. (Photo credits: Michael Padwee)

(https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr& GRid=32245665 and S. J. Rolfes and D.R. Weise, Cincinnati Art Deco, Arcadia Publishing, Charleston, South Carolina, 2014, p. 24)
Maxfield Keck was also associated with the Atlantic Terra Cotta Company as a modeler and sculptor, and he is considered responsible for the polychrome terra cotta that adorns the Childs Boardwalk Restaurant.

18. Kurshan, pp. 4-6.

19. Rachel Silberstein, “Watch Evolution Of Historic Childs Restaurant In Charles Denson’s New Film”, BKLYNER, May 3, 2016; http://bklyner.com/new-charles-denson-film-explores-childs-building-bensonhurst/.

20. “New Exhibit: Terra Cotta Relics from the Childs Building”, Coney Island History Project; http://www.coneyislandhistory.org/ blog/history/new-exhibit-terra-cotta-relics-childs-building, and “Hand Finished & Glazed Terra Cotta Units Breathe New Life into Seaside”, Boston Valley Terra Cotta Company Blog, October 21, 2016; http://bostonvalley.com/hand-finished-glazed-terracotta-breathe-new-life-into-seaside/.

According to an article in the Fall 2017 Friends of Terra Cotta Newsletter, there was at least "...one complex aspect of the restoration. It [was] clear from the original [terra cotta] pieces that large sections of the ornament were glazed all at one time as if they were part of one huge watercolor. Thus, the glazes tend to blend together with thick and thin areas and various overlaps in the color. ...Most glazing for restoration requires flat, even [glaze] applications of uniform thickness...so this proved to be an interesting learning experience. The sculpting of an enormous number of complex forms and creatures provided another daunting task[.]" (Susan Tunick, "Good News--Childs Restoration Completed", Friends of Terra Cotta Newsletter, Fall 2017, p.2)

21. "Childs Restaurant 21st Street and the Boardwalk Coney Island, Brooklyn, NY Dennison & Hirons, Architects 1923", Friends of Terra Cotta, p. 2; http://www.preserve.org/fotc/infochilds.htm

22. Michael Perlman, “Push to preserve Childs Restaurants in Queens”, Forest Hills/Rego Park Times, August 16, 2016; http://www.foresthillstimes.com/view/full_story/27251197/article-Push-to-preserve-Childs-Restaurants-in-Queens

The Nottingham Antique Tile Fair

If you're going to be in the UK on Saturday, October 7, the Tiles and Architectural Ceramics Society (TACS) is sponsoring its annual antique tile fair. This event will take place from 10AM to 4PM at the St. Jude's Church Hall, 405 Woodborough Road, Mapperley, Nottingham NG3 5HE. Entry at the door is £4.

When we attended this tile fair in 2012, the TACS members were very welcoming, and the tiles for sale were of excellent quality.

Hans van Lemmen to present at the Transferware Collectors Club Conference in Phoenix

Hans van Lemmen, Leeds Metropolitan University retired professor and current president of the British Tiles and Architectural Ceramics Society, will present the  first lecture, entitled "From Overglaze to Underglaze: Innovations and Developments in the Production of British Transfer-printed Tiles between 1756 and 1851", at the Transferware Collectors Club conference. He will assess the various technical innovations, styles and subject matter of transfer printed tiles including over-glaze printed  tin-glazed and creamware tiles produced by the Liverpool printers John Sadler and Guy Green between 1756 and 1780, under-glaze printed tiles by Spode and other makers made between 1780 and 1840, and innovations introduced by Minton & Co. and Collins and Reynolds in the 1840’s to 1850’s.

Also, in the concluding lecture of the conference, keynote speaker Hans van Lemmen will once again focus on transfer-printed tiles, his area of long term specialization. His presentation entitled, "Printed tiles galore: the mass production and varied applications of British transfer-printed tiles between 1851 and 1900", will examine the enormous output of transfer-printed  tiles during the second half of the nineteenth century and their applications in Victorian architecture and furniture. Special attention will be paid to the printed tiles made by prominent firms such as Minton, Hollins & Co., Mintons China Works, Wedgwood, W.T. Copeland, Maw & Co., and the Decorative Art Tile Co., as well as the work of notable tile designers.



"Art Deco Commercial Architecture: Montgomery Ward’s Mid-Size Department Stores"

"Tessellations: Islamic Tile Patterns and M.C. Escher"

"Grant's Tomb, the Community and the Gaudi-esque benches of Pedro Silva" AND A request for help

"A Factory As It Might Be" and the 2016 Ortner Preservation Awards
read more... 

The Atlantic Terra Cotta Company and the Beginnings of Polychrome Terra Cotta Use

Bits and Pieces: The Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel and following up on the James N. Gamble House and the Charles Volkmar Overmantle Mural

Art Deco Buildings and Their Lobbies: the Chrysler Building, the Film Center Building and the Kent Garage/Sofia Brothers Storage Warehouse


The Heart of the Park: Bethesda Terrace and its suspended Minton Tile ceiling

A Landmarks hearing was held on July 19, 2016...

Two Restorations: The City Hall Subway Station and the Tweed Courthouse

Egyptian, Moorish and Middle Eastern Ornamentation Used In Art Deco Terra Cotta in New York City, and Empire State Dairy Update
Wall Murals in Brooklyn: A Mini Survey

Inside Prospect Park: The park's Rustic, Classical and other Internal Architecture

Herman Carl Mueller in Titusville and Trenton, New Jersey; A Charles Volkmar Discovery in Clifton, New Jersey

A Book Review and New Discoveries and Updates-II: Jean Nisan, Ceramic Tile Artist

Polychrome Terra Cotta Buildings in Newark, New Jersey

New Discoveries-I: The Tiled House of Jere T. Smith

Introducing the Stained and Dalle de Verre Glass Art of Robert Pinart

Bits and Pieces: Polychrome Terra Cotta- and Tile-Clad Buildings

Socialist and Labor Architecture and Iconography in New York City

Bits and Pieces: Two Mosaics--Hamden, CT and Manchester, NH

The Renaissance Casino and Ballroom Complex in Harlem: Another Tunisian Tile Installation Headed for Demolition

Clement J. Barnhorn and the Rookwood Pottery

The Woolworth Building

The Mosaic Art of Hildreth Meière

Lost Tile Installations: The Tunisian Tiles of the Chemla Family

The Grueby Children's Murals on East 104th Street

The Experimental Lustre Tiles of Rafael Guastavino, Jr.

Bits and Pieces: Two "E"s--Eltinge and Elks; and more about Jean Nison

The Ceramic Tiles and Murals of Jean Nison

Pleasant Days in Short Hills: A Rookwood Wonderland

Architectural Ceramics in the Queen City

Isaac Broome: Innovation and Design in the Tile Industry after the Centennial Exhibition

"Immigration on the Lower East Side": A Public Arts Mural Created by Richard Haas

Movie Palaces-Part 2: The Loews 175th Street Theatre

Béton-Coignet in New York: The New York and Long Island Coignet Stone Company

Michelin House, London

Movie Palaces, Part 1: Loew's Valencia Theatre

An Architectural and Ceramic Tour of Istanbul - Part II

The Tiles of Fonthill Castle

An Architectural and Ceramic Tour of Istanbul - Part I

Tiled Facades in Madrid

Nineteenth Century Brooklyn Potteries

Ernest Batchelder in Manhattan

Leon Victor Solon: Color, Ceramics and Architecture

Architectural Art Tiles in Reading, Pennsylvania

Charles Lamb and Charles Volkmar

Kansas City Architecture - II

Kansas City Architecture - I

Westchester County--Atwood and Grueby

Modern Houses in New Caanan, Connecticut

PPG Place, Pittsburgh

Aluminum City Terrace, New Kensington, Pennsylvania

Newark's WPA Tile Murals: “Fine Art is an Important Part of Everyday Life”

Public Art Programs in New York City: The CETA Tile Murals at Clark Street

Concrete and Tiles-I: Moyer, Mercer, Murosa

The Café Savarin and the Rookwood Pottery; Chocolate Shoppe Rebounds

Architectural Ceramics of Henry Varnum Poor

Herman Carl Mueller and the Church of St. Thomas the Apostle

Meet Me at the Astor

The Mikvah Under 5 Allen Street; "Historic Hall" Apartments Revisited

London Post-3

Some Moravian Tile Sites in New York

London Post-2

London Post-1

Brooklyn's International Tile Company

Subway Tiles-Part III, the Squire Vickers Era

Subway Tiles-Part II, Heins and LaFarge

Subway Tiles--Part I, Guastavino tiles

Trent in New York-Part III, Historic Hall Apartment House

American Encaustic Tiling Company-Part II, Artists' Tiles

Trent in New York-Part II, a Dey Street Restaurant

American Encaustic Tiling Company-Part I, Tile Showrooms

Trent in New York-Part I, The Bronx Theatre

Fred Dana Marsh's Tiles


About this blog:

This is a non-commercial, educational blog. Content is compiled/written by Michael Padwee and all opinions expressed herein are my own, or quoted, and are offered without intending to harm any person or company.

I fact-check as carefully as possible before posting and try diligently to cite sources of text and photos that are not my own.

I reserve the right to edit content—either add or delete material—as I see fit.

If you find a broken link on this blog, please contact me at mpadwee'at'gmail.com.

I do not accept anything of value to write about products or businesses. If I recommend a product or a company, it is strictly not for profit.

Permission is granted to link back to this site. In fact, link backs are appreciated.

Offensive comments or spam will be deleted. I reserve the right to decide what is considered offensive.

I am not responsible, nor will I be held liable, for blog comments. Writers of comments take full responsibility for their content.

I reserve the right to remove comments asking for appraisals or trying to sell items. (Click on "comments" in the section below to leave a comment.)