Since the early days of the Spanish settlers through the mid-1900s, California has been a hotspot for the design and production of colorful tile. Some of our favorite buildings, including Union Station, have exteriors and interiors covered with gorgeous tiles. What is so interesting is that many of these tiles were made locally, in small towns throughout the state. Visit the Old House collection at the Monrovia Public Library to take a look at some fascinating books on this subject.
Are you old enough to remember Adohr Milk whose delivery trucks drove up and down local streets? Adohr is Rhoda spelled backward, the first name of Rhoda Rindge whose family once owned Malibu. She started a tile company on the beach that lasted only a few years. Ceramic Art of the Malibu Potteries 1926-1932 by Ronald Rindge shares the story of the family and their vividly glazed tiles.
Ernest Batchelder came to the Arroyo in Pasadena at the turn of the 20th century and built a house and a kiln to fire his handmade tiles. Robert Winter, Occidental College’s great historian who lives in the Batchelder house, tells the story in Batchelder Tilemaker. With themes taken from history and nature, the often three-dimensional tiles still decorate houses throughout the San Gabriel Valley.
Both California Tile, Volumes 1 and 2, by Joseph Taylor, and American Art Tile 1876-1941 by Norman Karlson track the small companies that made unique and glorious ceramic tile. The books highlight the companies in cities like Glendale, Pomona and Southgate. And, don’t miss Catalina Island Pottery and Tile, 1927-1937 by Carole Coates. The book relates how Catalina owner William Wrigley brought artisans to the island to produce tile and to give locals employment.