New York Architectural Terra Cotta Works Building
42-16 Vernon Boulevard
Francis H. Kimball
Tucked under the bridge on Vernon Boulevard is the last remnant of the New York Architectural Terra Cotta Works, a once thriving company that produced the terra cotta for buildings such as Carnegie Hall and the Ansonia Hotel. Terra cotta became popular as a building material in the United States beginning in the 1870s and enjoyed a long tenure due to its flexibility, versatility and durability. Established in 1886, the company was the only major architectural terra cotta manufacturer in New York City and, when completed, its facilities were the largest in the country for architectural terra cotta. The company set up its manufacturing operations on the Long Island City waterfront in 1886 and initially kept an office at 38 Park Row in Manhattan. Six years later, its office headquarters were moved to this remarkable building, whose design served to advertise the company’s considerable range and skill. According to the building’s designation report, it is “the only one of its kind known to survive in the United States.” The company went bankrupt in 1928-29, but from 1931 to the mid-1940s, the company’s last president, Richard Dalton, used the facilities for his successor company, the Eastern Terra Cotta Company, and then conducted business for a later construction company venture in the headquarters building until his death in 1968. The Dalton family sold the building that year and the rest of the complex, which included a six-story manufacturing building and the mansion of an estate previously located on the property, was unfortunately demolished in the 1970s. The office headquarters has long been neglected. Despite its owner’s claims to be restoring the building, evidence of such is not forthcoming.