Celadon Terra Cotta Building – Alfred, New York - Atlas Obscura

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Celadon Terra Cotta Building

Alfred, New York

A physical catalog of ceramics made by the now-defunct Celadon Terra Cotta company. 


Now located in front of Alfred University, this small building is one of the most obvious reminders of the legacy of the Celadon Terra Cotta Company.

The village of Alfred had existed for many decades before it was discovered that the clay found in its riverbeds was ideal for the making of terra cotta ceramics. In 1889, the Celadon Terra Cotta Company was founded by local residents and quickly grew into a large manufacturer of terra cotta products. In addition to bricks and roof tiles, the company made ornamental tiles for the exterior of buildings, which were very popular at the time.

In 1892 the Celadon Company built the Terra Cotta building next to their tile plant to serve as a physical catalog and showcase the various tiles available for sale. The building was considered so unique that it served as inspiration for one constructed at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago.

The company became so widely known for its quality products that Alfred was chosen as the location of the New York State School of Clayworking, which grew into the New York State College of Ceramics and Material Science. To this day the village of Alfred features a large number of buildings featuring tilework made by the Celadon Company.

The company merged with the Ludowici Roofing Tile company in 1906 and in 1909 the plant in Alfred burned down, causing all operations to move to the company’s factory in New Lexington, Ohio, where the company remains in operation to this day.

The only part of the plant to survive the fire was the Terra Cotta building, which remained alone for many decades. In 1969, Alfred University announced plans to clear the former site of the Celadon Company to build a gym, and the village historical society raised money to save the Terra Cotta by moving it across from the village post office in 1974, where it remains to this day.

These days the Terra Cotta is a village landmark and National Historic Property, occasionally opened to the public and members of the ceramic art college next door for viewing and appreciation.

Know Before You Go

Visitors are able to enjoy much of the terra cotta detailing from the outside of the building. It is found across the road from the village post office and right in front of Harder Hall at Alfred University. Parking can be found closer to the heart of Main Street, but there are sidewalks leading right to the building.

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