American Terra Cotta Company photograph collection

Inclusive Dates: 
circa 1890–1915
Survey Repository: 

This record forms part of the Chicago’s Art-Related Archival Materials: A Terra Foundation Resource project funded by the Terra Foundation for American Art. For this project, the Archives surveyed archival repositories throughout the Chicago region to identify art-related materials contained in their holdings. While the Archives of American Art does not own any of the materials described herein, information about those materials and links to the original repositories have been included when available.

Descriptive Summary

13 photographic prints of terra cotta ornamentation executed by Louis H. Sullivan and George G. Elmslie for American Terra Cotta Company. Photographs were sent to architects for approval before casting or modeling and were also kept in job files.

Biographical Historical Note

Boston native Louis Henry Sullivan was an innovative architect and designer who spent his career in Chicago, much of it in partnership with architect and engineer Dankmar Adler. Sullivan designed iconic commercial buildings in Chicago and other cities, as well as a number of small bank buildings throughout the Midwest. He mentored and inspired architect Frank Lloyd Wright at the start of the latter’s career.

Prairie School architect George Grant Elmslie was born in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. He worked with Louis Sullivan and later with William Gray Purcell as a partner in the firm Purcell & Elmslie, a firm that became one of the most commissioned firms among the Prairie School architects, second only to Frank Lloyd Wright. Following the dissolution of his partnership with Purcell in 1921, Elmslie worked occasionally with various other architects and produced a number of banks, train stations, commercial, and institutional buildings during the 1920s and 1930s. Founded by William Day Gates in 1881, the American Terra Cotta Tile and Ceramic Company was the country's first manufactury of architectural terra cotta.

Additional Notes

Related collections: William Day Gates Photograph Collection, Fritz W. Albert photograph collection, Chicago History Museum.