Remember the story about the thousands of pieces of new-old-stock vintage tile uncovered in storage building and marshalled for sale in West Virginia? The weekend after I ran the story, Readers Jason and Nicky jumped in their car and drove 7 hours to check it out. They scored some fabulous vintage tile for their two bathrooms and foyer — a side trip to Foamhenge — and sent us photos and their story. You have to admit: These stories are the bomb!
Jason (above) writes:
My wife Nicky and I went to the first tile sale at the old Beaver High School in Bluefield, WV on February 5th after seeing your story on the site. We had initially planned to spend the weekend in New England, but the threat of snow made us change our plans last minute, so we decided on a whim to see if we couldn’t knock out some of our tile needs (and we also wanted to see the Saxon Tangerine tile in person). The school is 7 hours from where we live, so we drove down Friday night and stayed in Lexington, VA (which is still 2 1/2 hours away), got up at around 6 am on Saturday morning and trekked down to Bluefield.
The school itself is impressive and sits on a hill so it can be seen from the main road. The main hall of the school was lined with tile and there was a large room (presumably a lab at one time) that was stock piled with even more tile. We were told that what was there was a fairly accurate representation of what they had, although they still have not finished inventorying all of the tile. Emily and Lawrence were extremely excited to see us, as we had been in contact via email and cell, so everyone that showed up was told that ‘people from Maryland’ had come to buy tile.
We are just diving in to the meatier projects now (bathrooms) and we are still debating the kitchen re-do (I want steel cabinets and my wife wants MDF or wood, although I might be winning that one 😀 ).
All in all we spent about 4 1/2 hours at the school. We got quite a haul — we bought 100 sf of the tangerine tile for our foyer, enough floor tile to do our hall bath, and enough tile to do the walls in our downstairs half-bath. We also purchased some of the Moroccan tile to use as coasters in our 70’s themed living room.
We LOVED the avocado Moroccan sheet tile for our foyer, but the tangerine tile won in the end). We absolutely were torn between the Avocado sheet tile and the tangerine, but ultimately, we decided the saxon tangerine would provide more visually impact. They also had Azrock tiles and Dal-tile sheet flooring which I did not get pictures of. We were on overload. We were trying to find project in which we could use the various tiles. My wife loved the floor tile that looked like stone…we almost left with that as well. 🙂
Also, just to clarify, we didn’t purchase all of the bullnose tile, there was plenty left. Seafoam is one of the colors they don’t have a large assortment of options in, but we found enough to do our half-bath. They did have lavender, a couple of shades of pink, various yellows (including speckled varieties), browns and beiges, 60s avocado (which looks more yellow than 70s), mint green (in plain and speckled variety), gray, white, as well as more contemporary options (i.e. 80s colors such as Platinum and Apricot). They also had a wide variety of ‘Squiggle’ tiles (the white ones with different colored squiggles) in a variety of colors. If I had to factor a guess, the majority of the tile we saw was late 50’s to early 80’s. We actually have a 1980’s comforter that matches the Platinum and Apricot tiles to a tee. Emily and Lawrence indicated they were still inventorying the majority of the older tile still packed in crates, although the pink bullnose was out for sale when we went (they had 2 crates jam packed). Most of the tiles are USA Made, but a fair bit were imported from England, Japan, and Korea. The Japanese tile is more than likely early 60’s, before they switched to electronics (I restored a 1953 Motorola TV and learned a lot about TV history; Motorola sold off its TV division in the early 70’s to a Japanese company, which gave the Japanese a definitive foot in the door in the US Television Manufacturing Industry).
I took some photos of our visit, as there were tiles that were not included in the original post. We kind of divided and conquered with our cameras; my wife tried to capture the mass quantity of the tile and I focused on some of the cool options available. My wife has asked me to apologize for the quality on some of them, as the lighting was not good inside the building.
One thing I should mention is that anyone going to this should bring warm clothing and flashlights. The building is solid brick and plaster and currently does not have heat, water, or power. While we were there, it got into the 40’s outside, but was probably close to 10 degrees cooler inside.
I’ve included a couple of shots of our wall tile plans with the tank of our toilet to show how closely the color matches. The toilet is an American Standard Cadet (as featured on the DEA Bath website) from the late 50’s. We purchased all of the bullnose tile at the sale, as well as the wall tile. The wall tile is from the Cambridge Tile Company, formerly in OhioGuessing by the color, I would say our wall tile is early to mid 80’s, but it goes so well up against the seafoam, we couldn’t resist!
We got a tour of the building, which is undergoing renovation — the proceeds from the tile sale will go to fund a new roof for the building, which has sat vacant since 1982.
I wanted to include one last pic of Foamhenge 🙂 Foamhenge is definitely worth seeing!
My wife worked down in that area for 3 months and insisted on showing me the Natural Bridge area (which also has a ‘natural bridge’ with a roadway over top of it, also worth seeing). We also scoped out is the Fenton glass store (which also sells other Made in the USA glass). They sell it, as well as Fiesta Ware at the WV Welcome Centers as well, since both products are proudly made in WV. We picked up some Vaseline glass salt and pepper shakers that look vintage but are pressed using the old molds. They are made by Mosser Glass, based out of Ohio.
Feel free to use any and/or all of the pictures I’ve sent to you. I apologize if I am coming across a little scattered; this tile sale was truly epic and recapping my thoughts and the experience makes me want to make the 7 hour trek again. I wish I could say I was kidding. 😀
Jason (BlueJay on the site)
Jason and Nicky, you two simply amaze me. Thank you for this fabulous report — and we want to see your tile installations when they are done! That said: The pain, the pain… It is all I can do to jump in my Escape and go down and get me some tile NOW. I wish I could say I was kiddin. 😀
I included both Jason’s photos — and the set from the first post — in the slide show below. To view: Click on any thumbnail to start… it will enlarge… advance via the arrows below the photo… you can start or stop at any location: