Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Friday, December 9, 2016

"I know your name...

...but I just can't place your face."

This seems to be the way it works with social networking and online research. It's lovely really. I often end up corresponding with fellow old house nuts, or architectural history experts. Occasionally we meet, more often we don't.

Sometimes this shared pursuit can evolve into friendships with friends we haven't met yet.
Terra Cotta in its Deseronto factory home territory

For me it often takes the form of meeting people as I  become familiar with their body of work.

I met Tim Morawetz, he of Art Deco Architecture in Toronto during an online exchange. That book is rare as rocking horse poo, and Tim was gracious enough to provide me with the PDF for my personal use, in return for a spot of research.

We all  occasionally make these connections while following links (the virtual version of checking those reference lists at the back of a book.)
a panel in neighbouring Napanee

A couple of years ago, I put together a post about terra cotta architectural elements.

The Archives of Deseronto, and archivist Amanda Hill were a great resource.

Another terrific source I discovered online was an article in the 2008 issue of Heritage Canada's magazine. Here it is again.

I linked readers to it from my post Not Just Flower Pots. I had become fascinated after visits in Napanee and Deseronto and determined to learn more. What a reward, to discover that the decorative tile was manufactured right here in Deseronto!

This past spring, I noted in County Magazine, that PEC stalwart (40 years old this winter!) a scholarly article by a Barbara McMullen, about architectural terra cotta. I didn't get round to reading it til recently (summer being what it is) but the name stuck with me; it was just so familiar. Why??

This week, I finally got round to a bit of online research and discovered that Barbara (who must be one of the new wave of PEC settlers) is a heritage terra cotta scholar of considerable stature.

 Here's a link to Barbara's Master's thesis at Carleton.


Here are her Ottawa terra cotta walking tour guides. Will be on order before our next trip.

Oh, THAT  Barbara McMullen!

That's why the name rang a bell.
Or was it the ping of thin highly fired clay?


  1. "Rare as rocking horse poo"! I love it! And thank you.

  2. I really should have credited the Lincolnshire Vincent Owners' Club. They originated the less sanitized version; I hear it from time to time at home :-)