Rookwood Pottery
Cincinnati, Ohio

In 1902 Rookwood Pottery, by then a well established and highly regarded enterprise, began making tiles and architectural faience. The company had been established in 1880 by Maria Longworth Nichols, a local socialite and experienced china painter who had become intrigued by art pottery. She hired William Watts Taylor as business manager in 1883, and it was Taylor who organized the architectural faience department after several years of intense experimentation developing a mat glaze suitable for ceramic surfacing material.

The first major commissions came in 1903 when Rookwood was contracted to design the tiles for four subway stations in New York City. Subsequently, the company won important commissions for tile installations in any number of prestigious hotels throughout the country, those frequented by the rich and famous, where the tilework became its own best promotion. Although most of these buildings have been destroyed, Rookwood tiles continue to adorn the fireplace mantels and bathrooms of many private homes.

The most comprehensive article on Rookwood's tiles and architectural faience, "Tiles of the Rookwood Pottery" by Kenneth R. Trapp, was published in "Flash Point," Vol. 6, No. 4 (Oct.-Dec. 1993) available for purchase from the Tile Heritage Foundation. To order click on THF Publications. For a Rookwood tile catalog reproduction, click on THF U.S. Catalog Collection.

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