Preserving the Tradition
Encaustic Tiles: A History
For decades, citizens of Allen County have walked across the floors of its courthouse. Unbeknownst to most, the floors of the Allen County Courthouse are a unique feature of the building; a feature noted on its application for National Historic Landmark status.

Covering all three floors of the Allen County Courthouse are encaustic tiles; a type of tile where the color is permeated from the clay rather than from a coating or glaze, allowing for the color and design to stay intact for decades even after usage and wear.

Encaustic tile making has been around for centuries, but it wasn't until the Gothic-Revival period that these tiles advanced to the forefront of popularity.

The encaustic tiles that we see on the courthouse floor were unique during their time, as they closely imitated mosaic work, including the use of multiple colors instead of the traditional two-color pattern. This new process was patented by Herman Mueller.
Encaustic Tiles: The Restoration
Evergreene using the Munsell Guide of International Colors to select the correct shades for the restoration
The majority of the tiles are in good condition compared to their years of use. In a recent conditions assessment performed by Evergreene Architectural Arts, just 10% of the historic tiles were identified for being chipped, cracked, or lifting.

The objective of the assessment was to accurately document existing conditions of the tiles, and quantify the locations and extent of deterioration. The results of the assessment will be used to create a comprehensive scope of restoration of the tile floors.
Charged with developing plans for restoring the selected encaustic tile flooring, the Trust set about to find a tile manufacturer with experience and expertise in creating encaustic tiles. Through in-depth research, the Trust was reminded that the original tiles were created with pressed powdered clay instead of liquid clay. The use of powdered clay ensures the historic integrity of replacement tiles, but its use is not readily found in modern manufactures.

Fortunately, the Trust is working with a manufacturer willing to adapt its press to create tiles in the likeness of Mueller's original work. Samples for review should be on their way by summer's end.

This process has been long, deliberate and tedious, but we hope worth it!!

Top Photo and Top Left Photo: Jared Christiansen Photography
Tour the Courthouse
The courthouse is opened to tour year long. Stop by for a personal walking tour anytime during business hours. You can pick up a walking guide at the security desk or download one from the Trust's website.

Guided tours are highly recommended for those who wish to experience an educationally in-depth tour of the courthouse. One of the Trust’s trained docents will lead you and your group through the historical landmark, describing the artwork and architectural designs, explaining history, and detailing methods and processes of restorations.

Keep a look-out in next month's newsletter for information on school trips.

You can schedule a guided tour at the Trust’s website today!  
Special Note from the Trust
Hello Readers,

We at the Trust want to extend our greatest appreciation for your readership of our monthly newsletter.

Starting this month, the newsletter is available for sign-up for all individuals interested in the Allen County Courthouse and its preservation.

Maintaining the preservation and historical integrity of this National Historic Landmark is the Trust's driving mission.

Your support allows us to do soIf you would like to make a contribution to preserving the Allen County Courthouse, donations can be made on our website.

All donations will go directly to funding current and upcoming projects for preserving the Allen County Courthouse.

All current and upcoming projects will be documented in our newsletter.
In the Next Edition and Reader's Survey

  • The Fine Details of the Courthouse
  • Back-to-School
  • Be a Tourist in Your Hometown

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715 South Calhoun Street | Fort Wayne, Indiana 46802 |260.449.4246