Gladding McBean tiles — sentimental artifacts of Romantic Revival design

gladding mcbean tile at the leo carrillo ranch gladding mcbean tile at the leo carrillo ranchMy heart be still, did you notice the vintage decorative tiles in one of the pink bathrooms at the Leo Carrillo Ranch? I was curious, of course, and asked buddy Bungalow Bill, who right quick answered:

gladding mcbean tile - from California Tile The Golden Era 1910-1940Whew, that was an easy one. Gladding McBean in Glendale and Hermosa Beach CA 1875-1962. I am attaching a photo from the book California Tile, The Golden Era 1910-1940 Vol 1 from the California Heritage Museum showing that tile with other examples from the company.

The tile is also pictured in Norman Karlson’s Encyclopedia Of American Art Tile, Vol 4. Both should be available on PAmazon 😉

– Bill

Gerry Streff, archivist from the Leo Carrillo Ranch, also confirmed the tiles were purchased Gladding McBean’s Hermosa Tile Division. She also sent me the fabulous images at the top of this story and the photo of the main bathroom (below) with the wagon tile – squint, it’s there along the sunken tub surround:

Hi Pam-

I did check the date and the tile was purchased from Gladding McBean in October, 1938 (Hermosa Tile division.) Carrillo also has checks from the company doing the bathroom construction in 1938.
gladding mcbean tile in the leo carrillo ranch pink bathroom

The main bathroom (with the sunken tub) features the wagon tile, while the Horseman’s Bedroom, furnished with custom Monterey furniture, has the accent tile of the man in a sombrero.

– Gerry


thommy in one of the pink bathrooms in the leo carrillo ranchWe have a good shot of the man in the sombrero from the photos that Thommy and Nancy took when they visited the Leo Carrillo Ranch in San Diego. Hi, Thommy!

Meanwhile, googling around for more about Gladding McBean, I found this excellent research about the history of their trademarks — which includes a history of their acquisitions. Seems like Catalina Tile, Tropico Tile and even Franciscan dinnerware all became part of the Gladding McBean empire by about 1940. I also liked this article about the use of art tile in the U.S., mostly before World War II.

My key takeaway: Decorative tiles like these came out of the Arts & Crafts tradition — in which hand-crafted products were again revered following the onslaught of factory-made products made possible by the Industrial Revolution. Interestingly, today’s Etsy and handmade revival is largely seen to be reaction against Made In China excess.

These Gladding McBean tiles — with their often-sentimental themes — also seem to fit within the “Romantic Revival” aesthetic of the early 20th century, which brought us not only bungalows, but also Tudors, Spanish Mediterranean, mini-Palacios and other styles of homes that romanticized old Europe architectural styles. Romantic Revival homes were popular in the 1920s and into the 1930s.

Finally —  The Tile books: Added to Pamazon. Thanks, Bill! Thanks, Gerry! Thanks, Thommy and Nancy!

  1. Karen says:

    We just closed not too long ago on a 1949 ranch-style home complete with pink bathroom, which has been saved from the sledge hammer for now. The vanity top was inlaid with Gladding McBean Hermosa tile, a funky pink tile. We saved most of the tiles (there weren’t all that many) and are trying to find a use for them. Also trying to match existing pink tile and maroon trim strips to extend the tub surround for a shower. The Hermosa tiles have not been manufactured in over 35 yrs, according to one of their reps.

    1. pam kueber says:

      Karen — to match the tile, see my stories in Bathrooms/Tile. Probably, your best bet will be: World of Tile in Springfield, NJ. See my stories… tell Chippy I sent you.

      1. Karen says:

        Pam – I’ve seen your stories! So very fascinating. 🙂 Did the virtual tour through World of Tile and will also contact them. B&W is sending tile chips for us to compare to our tile. We were going to “save the pink bathroom,” then decided to take it all out and renovate completely, and now we’re back to “saving the pink bathroom.” 🙂 Too late to save the vanity counter top (with the Hermosa tile) but we’re saving the rest of it and we hope to match existing tile to increase the tub surround for a shower. Not sure what the original floor looked like but we’re planning to take the existing out, and I’m hoping to find something a bit more retro with pink to put down over radiant mesh. Tile bathroom is COLD in the winter!

  2. Joe Felice says:

    It appears the 2 bathrooms are slightly-different shades. The first is actually salmon, while the second is true pink. Both are gorgeous, and both shades were popular back then. To me, pink lends an air of luxuriousness.

  3. Shelly in PHX says:

    I am a proud relative of the Rindge family who not only put Malibu, CA on the map back in the late 1800s, but also founded the artisan tile-making Malibu Potteries in 1926. Though sadly short-lived (due to a catastrophic fire in 1932), the tiles are revered and still in many buildings & homes all around southern California. They are also prominently featured in the historic Adamson House (aka “The Taj Mahal of Tile”) in Malibu Lagoon State Beach Park, including a “persian rug” made of over 600 individual tiles. There’s even an active research & preservation committee for these tiles! Okay, I’m done boasting now. 🙂

    Here are some pretty pictures: http://www.adamsonhouse.org/Tile/tile.html

    1. jay says:

      Wow! I remember seeing this house on a TV program not too long ago. Beautiful setting by the ocean. Reminds me (the house) of Henry Mercer’s castle” Fonthill” in Bucks County that is literally floor to ceiling tile work from tiles comprised from around the world and those which he made himself in his pottery works.

  4. Steve Lewis says:

    Hi Pam,
    I grew up in Lincoln California and was glad to see this post. Gladding McBean had a plant there (we called it The Pottery) making everything from facades, to planters to lots and lots of sewer pipes.
    It became Interpace in ’62, until it ’76 when it became Gladding McBean again.
    It still is an important part of the local economy and the community… I hear the 4th of July celebration at McBean Park is still a BIG deal (can’t miss it… it’s on McBean Park Drive).
    Thanks for the stroll down memory lane!

    1. pam kueber says:

      Thanks, Alan — especially for all your work to preserve and restore this wonderful property. I caught the link issue earlier today and fixed it (I think!)

  5. Robin says:

    I absolutely adore that arched entry to the shower/tub alcove. If I was building a house I’d do just that. Gorgeous!

  6. BungalowBILL says:

    I found it interesting that these designs are so early. By the craftmanship I always put them as later. GMB had an amazing body of work, not only tiles but gardenware and dinnerware. MCM is Grand, I’d love to see pics of that mural. Like to see some of that Monterey furniture in that bedroom too.

  7. MCM is Grand says:

    Pam – the Los Angeles Maritime Museum (where I work), has an entire tile wall mural made by Gladding McBean. It was originally installed outside the Van Camp Cannery in Los Angeles Harbor in the 30s, then saved from the wrecking ball and later reinstalled in our lobby. The tile wall shows the five types of tuna that were once plentiful around here. Would you like some photos? We love to share!

      1. MCM is Grand says:

        OK, will do! And I hope Bungalow Bill can help us out…we are trying to determine the artist’s identity, but so far have been unsuccessful…stay tuned for photos soon!

Comments are closed.