New York Architectural Terra-Cotta Company Records, 1892-1921 (bulk 1911-1920)


The New York Architectural Terra-Cotta Company (NYATCC) was in operation at 401 Vernon Avenue in Long Island City, Queens, New York, from 1886 to 1932. Of the forty-eight major terra cotta manufacturers in the United States, it was the only company that operated its plant in New York City. The NYATCC supplied architectural terra cotta for projects throughout the United States and Canada, including over 2,000 buildings. Among their most prominent commissions are Carnegie Hall and the Plaza Hotel in New York City.

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This collection contains nearly 6,000 files of the company covering the period from 1889 to 1921, with the bulk of documents produced between 1911 and 1920. The majority of the collection is comprised of unsuccessful architectural bid documents, each noting the architect, building, and location, as well as estimated costs, sketches, and related correspondence. These bid records provide information for 6,248 separate projects in New York City, the United States, and several foreign countries. These bid documents represent commissions not awarded to NYATCC, and do, in some cases, indicate the outcome of the bid. Architects represented include Carrère & Hastings, D.H. Burnham & Co.; Cass Gilbert; McKim, Mead & White; George Post; Warren & Wetmore; Schwartz & Gross, and many others.

The collection also contains correspondence files and office memoranda, including some describing the formative years, 1911-1914, of the National Terra Cotta Society, as well as trade catalogs and job photographs. Also of note are two albums containing photographs of sample pieces of terra cotta, and month-by-month construction records for three buildings: the American Theater (42nd Street, New York City, 1892) designed by Charles Coolidge Haight; the Renaissance Apartments (Brooklyn, N.Y., 1889) and the Imperial Apartments (Brooklyn, N.Y., 1890) both designed by Montrose Morris.

This collection may be especially useful for researchers interested in typical office practices for architects and contractors in the early 20th century; the development of building technology and subsequent changes in building types (i.e. fewer stables, more auto garages); trends in glaze finishes in the 1910s; the costs involved in building, including bidding wars and competition between businesses; and raw data on alternative or substitute building materials. Additionally, the bid documents are an extremely valuable resource for researchers seeking information on the diverse work of hundreds of prominent and lesser-known American and Canadian architects practicing in the 1910s whose projects may not otherwise be well documented.

NYATCC letterhead. NYATCC letterhead.