Sunday, October 19, 2014

L'esperance Tile Works - 35 years ago in Troy, NY

Since we're celebrating 35 years in business, Don suggested that we play hooky last Saturday and take a drive past some old haunts of the first few years of L'esperance Tile Works in downtown Troy, NY.

Me, Dennis, and Don at Northeast Ceramic Supply

 We had to stop by our ceramic materials supplier, Northeast Ceramic Supply, to pick up supplies for some current projects, so we were headed to Troy anyway. When I started my business 35 years ago, Dennis Smith was an employee of Northeast Ceramics - he's now the owner (for many years!), and has recently located to a great new space on Monroe Street in Troy.

The Canon Building

My very first studio space was located in the Canon Building, in downtown Troy, on the corner of Broadway and Second Street. We were on the third floor, which previously housed law offices, and was a large open space, full of light from the corner windows. Troy didn't have an active arts community way back in 1979 when I was there, but it's changed and grown a lot since then. An amazing farmer's market was in full swing when we visited, and we ran into a number of people we knew. They sang the praises of the energy and artistic activity happening in downtown Troy these days. It made me want to move back!!

#2 Washington Place - my apartment for 5 years

At the same time I started the business, I moved to an apartment on the fourth floor of a beautiful old brownstone on historic Washington Park, about 6 blocks south of my studio space in the Canon Building - a beautiful walk away, rain or shine. It was the old servant's quarters for the building, and had the largest and best lit bathroom I've ever  had - fully tiled with what would become our bread and butter production tile. I didn't know that at the time, because I was using local terra cotta clay for all the tiles I was making, but this bathroom was tiled floor to wainscot with white crackle field, mudbase and mudcap. The 4 flights of walk-up kept me in quite good shape!

My windows on the 4th floor.

Washington Park

Laid out in 1840, the Park is one of only two privately owned urban ornamental parks in the United States. The gates were locked and owning a key was one of the privileges of being a tenant on the park.

Entrance to #2 Washington Place

I always loved the carved details of the building and seeing it again after so many years brought back a surge of great memories.

Cobbled streets of Washing Place

Parking was never a problem, but I remember many times getting stuck in ruts of deep winter snow on this street!

Troy is so full of amazing buildings that are decorated with historically significant ceramic tile, and I'll show a few in my next post.

Please visit my Etsy shop and view some of our lovely decorative tiles here -

L'esperance Tile on Etsy

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