When you buy a 1959 house from the original owner — original building materials still in the basement

59 years after the house was built… and you buy it from the original owner… and he was a plumber… and his brother was a tile-setter… and they built the house: Of course there are still boxes of the original bathroom tile down in the basement, you discover after you move in. That’s Carolyn’s story. I’m having a good time with it.

When Carolyn first contacted me a while back, she was still in the process of buying the house, and was already researching — wanting to know — where she might find spare floor tile in case she needed to swap out the original toilet and was left with a gap. Then, after she moved in, she discovered: The 59-year-old leftovers still in the basement. 

She wrote:

I definitely will order the toilet next week. I’ve been so incredibly lucky that I don’t want to push it too far. Because guess what? I found about 4sq feet of the pink and grey bathroom floor hidden under some dusty boxes. In fact, I now have a handful of replacements for most of the tile in my house (see some random samples attached.) 

Good thing she found those pink floor tiles, because “Keystone Ridgeway Company” — doesn’t sound very common. I see they were based in Gettsyburg, Pa. Hey, I wonder if Mamie used them in her Gettysburg bathrooms!

The blue tiles in the first photo, though: Those might be able to be found. Mosaic Tile Co. was big.

Carolyn’s wall tile is American Olean. Also a major maker, back then, and now. Hoorah for you, Carolyn!


CategoriesBathroom Tile
  1. Susan Gizzie says:

    Do you have any of the blue mosaic tile left from the Mosaic Tile Company in Zanesville? It is your first photo. Or do you know where I can find it.

    Thank you,

  2. Clint Smith says:

    Lucky Carolyn finding all those great resources in the home. Locating vintage tile to match & repair a floor can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. In fact, Carolyn has virtually the same bath as my home. Identical floor & wall tile in my blue bath. I’d sure be grateful to contact her directly just to get the numbers off the blue mosaic floor tile so I can use in my own search. Same for the blue wall tile. I’ve been searching for months & found there’s many slight color variations, so original packaging showing manufacturer name & numbers (if available) are a huge help.

  3. Carol Bumbacco says:

    I would love to see pictures of your yellow powder room! Yellow is my favourite colour.

  4. Kathaleen Murray says:

    My daughter just bought the house next door and it has that exact mosaic tile in the master bath and the pink tile in the kitchen. It was built in 1958. Cool!

  5. Mary Elizabeth says:

    Gorgeous tile throughout, and extend the community’s thanks and blessings to the sellers for (1) resisting the advice to pull out the “horribly outdated” baths and (2) leaving the tile for you. In our 1959 house, the children of the original owner/builder left us spare tiles in the small linen closet that had been built into the wall. No question of searching through a basement store to find them!

  6. Carolyn says:

    I may be turning onto a huge geek. (Or else I am totally procrastinating all that I have to do to get my new house in order.) I didn’t even ponder the popularity of my tile makers. But, Pam’s comment made me wonder. It seems like Olean, Keystone Ridgeway and Dal-tile (still in existence) are all related.

    I found this (from 2012): “Dal-Tile acquired the Olean facility in 1995 when it obtained American Olean from Armstrong.…The Keystone Ridgeway Co. initiated production at the Gettysburg facility in 1947. It was later owned by Wilson Brothers, from whom Dal-Tile acquired the facility in 1980.”

    Source: https://www.fcnews.net/2012/11/dal-tile-consolidating-mosaic-operations/

    I am not going to further research the providence for Mamie’s tile because I just love the concept that we could be connected in that way.

  7. MrsErinD says:

    Such beautiful bathrooms in your house Carolyn, that pink cinderella tub is amazing!

    Pam, seeing those boxes of tile makes me think of our 1960 brick ranch time capsule we bought just a few yrs ago from the original owner in August of 2014 here in Pgh, Pa.
    We have 3 original bathrooms, and they too kept extra tile from the bathrooms – 6 (SIX!!) boxes of it!!!!
    The main bathroom is a full bath with brown and peachy-everysoslightly pinky-beige-y tile on walls and floor (the floor has insets of peach tile in the brown tile that look like flowers) and peachy type matching tub/toilet.
    The master bath is a half bath with blue speckle/solid blue tile on walls, 2 tone marble-y blue mosaic tile ( similar to Carolyn’s) on the floor and blue toilet/sink. It also has it’s own linen cupboard (second) with blonde wood sliding doors!!
    The third bath is in the finished basement, it is a half bath with shower. It has pink (my fave!) speckle tile on walls and on the shower walls and the floor has pink/white mosiac tiles, while the shower floor has pink/gray mosaic tiles, and the sink/toilet are gray.
    We were so happy to find our time capsule dream house and seeing these posts of Carolyn’s bathroom made me think of ours and how excited I was to see they had kept extra original tile!
    My Hubby’s favorite part? The “hidden room” in the basement – it is behind a moveable bookcase that looks built in. Hubby has made it his “shelter” and has all his civil defense things in there. 12 years old again, haha! 🙂

  8. Debbie in Portland says:

    I want to know what was in the “dusty boxes” that these boxes were hidden under!

    Thank you for sharing this house with us, Carolyn. I am so happy that someone like YOU ended up with this wonderful home.

    1. Carolyn says:

      Well, for one — polka records. And another, manuals of old tvs. Zenith was once a pretty sexy brand,

  9. linda h says:

    This reminds me that I should try to sell the extra 70’s wallpaper that came with our house to Hannah’s Treasures. It was in our bathrooms, but we didn’t like it and removed it. I doubt it would have grown on me after living with it for a while. But someone else might love it.

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