With its distinctive Mission Revival style architecture, bell tower, vivid mosaic and colorful tiles, Metropolitan’s Weymouth Water Treatment Plant in La Verne is a unique historical landmark.
Visitors often ask about the tiles and recently our GM tweeted about the ones on the fountain near the admin building. We wanted to learn more.
Turns out these tiles were most likely made in 1939 by the Santa Catalina Island Tile Company, which was founded by William Wrigley (of chewing gum fame) and purchased in 1937 by Gladding McBean Tiles. They supplied all the tiles used for the Weymouth Plant.
Face brick, floor tile and roofing tiles were initially produced at the factory, followed by patio tiles and Cuenca-style pavers. By the late 1920s, the company was producing glazed art tile not only for use on Catalina Island, but to be sold all over the country. In addition to their pottery shop on the island, they also had one on Olvera Street – just across the street from where Metropolitan’s HQ now stands.
Daniel Elliott, architect of the Weymouth building, chose the tiles for the building. Tiles from the same company were also used at San Diego’s Alvarado Water Treatment Plant and Union Station.
The tiles have even provided the inspiration for the artwork that will be at the Gold Line’s new La Verne station. There, steps of an old orchard ladder will create a sculpture with repeating zig-zag pattern – an ancient symbol of water. This pattern appears in the ceramic tile ornamentation at Weymouth.