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

Monday, October 1, 2018

Newark, New Jersey Loses Another Architectural Gem: Science High School and a new resource

Newark, New Jersey Loses Another Architectural Gem: Science High School 

As part of a larger article about Newark's polychrome terra cotta buildings, I wrote about the history of the building at 40 Rector Street in 2015--i.e., Ballantine Brewery's Malt House #3 (built in 1860), which was given an Art Deco facade in the 1930s and later became Newark's Science High School in the 1980s.(1)

40 Rector Street in about 2015. (Jessica Mazzola, "Abandoned school awaiting Shaq renovation damaged in blaze," November 19, 2015;   (https://www.nj.com/essex/index.ssf/2015/11/     abandoned_school_awaiting_shaq_renovation_damaged.html)

This building is described in the National Parks Service Registry of Historic Places as
"...a large, nineteenth century, former industrial building, with a considerable number of twentieth - century modifications. The 18-bay structure, varying from two to six stories, was built in a Medieval Revival style around 1860, as the Ballantine Brewery Malt House #3. Bay articulation is achieved through the use of brick pilaster strips. The eastern and central sections of the building retain their original medievalizing appearance. The western bays are harmonious in appearance, in spite of stylized Art Moderne ornamentation applied in the 1930s. Unification of design is achieved both with a continuous concrete and marble basement level, and with an ornamental brickwork facade and corbelled roofline that give the building its fortress-like appearance. Polychromatic terra cotta panels ornament the entrance on Rector Street. The building's basement contains substantial evidence of its former brewing usage, including kiln bases, drainage channels in the floor and vat settings. The three westernmost bays of the building, which are set back from the main body of the high school, were once a late nineteenth century, mansard roofed, blacksmith shop associated with the original brewery. The wing now serves as the cafeteria and kitchen of the high school.

"The building is both historically and architecturally significant. Designed by architect Charles H. Nicoll as the Malt
House Number 3, it is the oldest and largest surviving remnant of the Peter Ballantine & Sons Ale Brewery, which until c. 1912 dominated both sides of Front Street, a predecessor of McCarter Highway, at the foot of Rector Street. 

Ballantine Breweries and Malt Houses, c. 1890s. (https://knowingnewark.npl.org/chronology/1800-1899/)

Malt Houses 2, 3 and 4 in the 1890s. Photo taken from the roof of the brewery. (https://sites.google.com/site/pballantineandsons/breweries?tmpl=%2Fsystem%2Fapp%2Ftemplates%2Fprint%2F&showPrintDialog=1)        I could not find a photo of the front facade from the period before the Art-Deco ornamentation was added.

"The building is also ornamented with some of the best Art Deco mosaic and detailing in the city; probably applied when the brewery was converted into a school in the early 1930s. 

An ad for the New Jersey Law School at 40 Rector Street from the East Orange (NJ) High School Yearbook, The Syllabus 1930.

"In 1933, the building was taken over by Dana College, through a merger of the New Jersey Law School and the Seth Boyden School of Business. In October of 1935, Dana College and the University of Newark merged, and retained the latter name... . 

Rutgers University students in front of the 40 Rector Street entrance to Rutgers-Newark, c 1945. (Thomas J. Frusciano and Erika B. Gorder, "Rutgers through the Centuries: 250 Years of Treasures from the Archives," Exhibition Catalog, Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University Libraries, November 2015, p. 40.)
"Ten years later, the school was absorbed by Rutgers University and used as a chemistry laboratory. Essex County College leased the building from 1963-1976 when it was taken over by the Newark Board of Education for the present Newark Science High School... ."(2)  

Front door. (Science High School terra cotta photos courtesy of Michael Padwee)

Close-up of polychrome terra cotta ornamentation.

The side door, one of two secondary entrances.

Close-up of side door terra cotta.

Terra cotta ornament on the building's facade.

Kiyan Williams, a multidisciplinary artist and writer, was a student in the last class to set foot in Science High School: "My class, the class of 2009, was the last (and best) class to step foot in the old building on 40 Rector Street, the last class of Science High School, the end of an era." 

Kiyan Williams continues:

"After 2005 the old Science High was abandoned. For years it was rumored that Shaq purchased the building and would turn it into luxury condominiums to accommodate the city’s newest residents. During my yearly pilgrimage through my old stomping grounds I would visit the empty art deco building, kicking away debris from the front entrance as a devotee would at her temple.

"On my last visit, in January 2017, I encountered a wire fence surrounding 40 Rector Street, a sign that the world around me was slowly morphing into something strange and new. Once I got closer to the ominous gate I saw a stunning view of the blue-green Passaic waters where there once stood tall brick walls enclosing rooms where my [S]panish and physics classes were held. The old locker room was an exposed pile of red and buff ashes. I felt exposed."(3)  

Newark's Science High School under the Wrecking Ball, February 17, 2017. (https://www.nj.com/essex/index.ssf/2017/02/old_science_high_school_in_newark_demolished_leavi.html

Will "Shaq Tower" and other new development projects in downtown Newark bring about a revival for all, as NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O'Neal wanted, or just bring about more of the same wealthy gentrification that we've seen elsewhere?

(1) The Fall 2018 Friends of Terra Cotta Newsletter also has an article about the loss of this building.

(2) United States Department of the Interior
National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places
Registration Form, Military Park Commons Historic District, Newark, New Jersey, Section 7, Page 25; https://npgallery.nps.gov/NRHP/GetAsset/2c63edce-def4-43f3-bfe2-fec8d7a568f2?....

(3) Kiyan Williams, "A Eulogy For Science High School";  https://mystudentvoices.com/a-eulogy-for-science-high-school-fee5f2890d2b. Also, see  http://www.kiyanwilliams.com/bio/.

A New Resource: Architectural Terra Cotta of Milwaukee County by Ben J. Tyjeski

Ben Tyjeski, a ceramics sculptor and architectural historian of terra cotta in the midwest, has written a well-documented book about the terra cotta buildings in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin. Architectural Terra Cotta of Milwaukee County is a 226 page, softbound, historical reference of the use of terra cotta. There are three sections about the use of clay in architecture, the terra cotta manufacturers and the architects of the Milwaukee County buildings, followed by five chapters of building descriptions from the earliest historically to the most modern. A "Building Inventory" lists the buildings by year built and includes the architects, the terra cotta company/supplier, if known, and notes if the building has been demolished. An index ends this well-illustrated book.

"Architectural Terra Cotta of Milwaukee County is not your ordinary building survey.  Inside are detailed descriptions on the terra cotta of nearly 200 buildings.  They discuss the motifs, surfaces, and designs, as well as give context to how and why the structures were built.  There are 350 colored photographs."

There were only 19 copies of this book left unsold in September (only 100 were printed). If you'd like to purchase a copy (US $59.95--free shipping), contact Ben Tyjeski via email (tyjeskib@gmail.com), or via his website, Tyjeski Terra Cotta Works.


"A Possible Early Sketch for one of Frederick Dana Marsh's Marine Grill Murals" and a new exhibit.

"The Commercial and Personal Art Tiles of Rafael Guastavino, Jr.: Part II"

"The Lower East Side and Bialystoker Landsmanshaftn"

"The Identification of United States Art Tiles" and three new resources

"Tile Advertisements in the Paris Métro" and "SAVED!!! The Empire State Dairy Tile Murals in Brooklyn, New York"

"The Sevillian tile style: Catalogo de Azulejos de Estilo Sevillano"

"Bits and Pieces: Updates for the Lever House, the Kesner Building and 2116 Ditmas Avenue, Brooklyn" and an obituary for Robert Pinart

"The Commercial and Personal Art Tiles of Rafael Guastavino, Jr." (Part I)

"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
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


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Wall Murals in Brooklyn: A Mini Survey

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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

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Clement J. Barnhorn and the Rookwood Pottery

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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

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

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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

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Meet Me at the Astor

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London Post-3

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London Post-2

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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

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