The Pullman Memorial Universalist Church - dedicated to Lewis and Emily Caroline Pullman - was designed by famed architect Solon S. Beman. One of the visually outstanding features of the 1895 building (constructed of pink Medina sandstone) was its red "Spanish clay" roofing tiles.
Alas, for reasons now lost to history, those tiles were removed less than forty years later and replaced with ordinary composition shingles. One can only guess there was a problem with water leaks, which likely had more to do with improper flashing details than with the tiles themselves.
So those beautiful terracotta tiles were taken down and disposed of in the 1930's. Now, as we approach our 125 year anniversary the move is on to restore the roof to its original grandeur, ie, to replace the tile roof. But the question has been - what did those tiles look like? There are more variations in tile design than the average person would imagine, and color variations within each design, too.
Well, as of yesterday we have confirmed exactly which tile shape was employed, and samples of the color are available to us - all thanks to some shards found in a pile of rubble in a basement corner.
|1893 Celadon Exhibit|
Celadon was bought by Ludowici Roofing Tile Company in 1906 and Ludowici is still in existence, still making tiles. A company rep believes the pattern molds still exist and it is still possible to reproduce the Conosera tiles.
Have you heard the expression, "Be careful what you wish for?" It's exciting to finally learn what our roof looked like when first built, and yet if we opt to be historically accurate in restoration and go with the original Conosera pattern tiles then our expenses just skyrocketed. George Pullman - whose net worth at the time of his death was $37 billion in today's money - probably didn't bat an eye at the cost to erect his monument using the finest materials and craftsmanship available. But now, in 2014, it will take more than a single wealthy benefactor to reclaim the lost glory of this tile roof.
Every donation - no matter how small - will help us reach our goal. If you are moved by history and want to see a beautiful building be once again capped in splendor then I invite you to throw some money in the hat at pullman125project.com
Below are some more images of this tile pattern, some of our original "shards," and photos of two existing buildings showing the flexibility of these tiles to handle curves:
|Note the tapered flute, and reinforced nailing holes|
|Not a broken piece, but marked "Hip Left"|
|Manufacturer's mark on the back|
|The broken finial|
|First Presbyterian Church, Dayton, OH|
|County Courthouse, Syracuse, NY|