TILES: Hidden Treasures, Found!

Two years ago, after standing for almost 90 years, one of our town’s old brick schools was torn down. Though I never stepped inside the school, I always admired its gracious steps, tall windows and the bow-windowed kindergarten room that poked out the side. I didn’t know this at the time, but at the heart of the old kindergarten room stood a fireplace.

In the weeks before demolition, former teachers and students stopped by the school to say their final goodbyes. Some took pictures. Others just looked and remembered. But one group did more. Our town’s Historic Preservation Advisory Board not only remembered that the kindergarten class contained a grand and beautifully tiled fireplace, they took steps to preserve it. And, in the process of dismantling the fireplace tile by tile, they discovered some small tiles, long-forgotten and covered with thick paint.

Now free of paint, the re-discovered tiles each depict a different animal, colorfully rendered in thick hand-glazed strokes. This week, I discovered those tiles on display in a modest little case at our public library. And to my delight, in addition to celebrating the story of their preservation, the exhibit included reproduction tiles available for purchase! I purchased several which now hang in my kitchen.

Like that old school, our lives, too, are full of forgotten treasures. And from a writer’s perspective, those tiles are a good reminder that the best ideas often require digging a little deeper into ourselves, scratching beneath the surface of first impressions to find memories worth exploring and sharing. May this week be full of forgotten treasures – found!

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14 thoughts on “TILES: Hidden Treasures, Found!

  1. This post reminds me of a box of my childhood drawings and school projects tucked away in the basement. It’s time to blow the dust off that little treasure box and dig for some inspiration. Great post!

  2. A better link to photos and video here:

    cranford.patch.com/articles/media-gallery-union-county-saves-historic-fireplace-from-wrecking-ball#photo-1417830

  3. I’m so grateful to Denise for posting those links! I went off on a long internet tangent reading all the wonderful articles online about the tiles and the fireplace. The original mural was so beautiful – I can’t imagine who would paint over them in the first place! So glad they have been preserved. I think it would be lovely to have such a pretty kindergarten classroom with a tiled fireplace and bow windows!

    If I ever get to Cranford, I’m stopping in at the library!

  4. Those stories we have to dig for are often all the richer for it. Lovely post. So nice that they offered those replica tiles for sale and you are able to take some of that history home with you and now it becomes part of your history as well.

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