The Homer Laughlin China Co. was recently featured in NPR’s American Made Series as an excellent example of an American manufacturing company that has been in constant operation since it’s founding in 1873. Many people know of Homer Laughlin’s Fiesta pottery line, fewer are aware of the companies deep history in developing the first major whiteware manufacturing plant in the United States. This whiteware is now a standard of excellence for many hotel and restaurant operations who are the primary consumers of this product. Boston Valley is proud to have two connects to Homer Laughlin: first our shared history as a long-standing American ceramic manufacturer; and second our use of rejected Homer Laughlin whiteware as a raw material in our clay mixture. Previously fired ceramic material, known as grog, is one component of the terra cotta clay recipe. Boston Valley purchases rejected pieces and scrap from Homer Laughlin, grinds the pieces up, and mixes this with our own recycled material to add to our clay mixtures. This industrial recycling process provides LEED credit opportunities for owners and architects interested in green products!
Boston Valley Terra Cotta’s ARCH Design lab is milling custom dies that will be used for our prototype extrusion press.
The plastic dies are easy to mill and allow the team at Boston Valley to produce prototype panels and blocks quicker and more efficiently.
Looking at pictures of Boston Valley Terra Cotta today, you would never guess that it came from such humble beginnings. Now a company that is a worldwide manufacturer of architectural terra cotta for restoration and rain screen installations, Boston Valley was once a simple brick manufacturing facility.
In the pictures above, you can see the original building that was built in 1889. The Krouse family later bought the factory when it was a clay pot manufacturer in 1981. Andrew Krouse and his four sons took the clay pot factory and quickly turned it into a global competitor for architectural terra cotta and ceramics. The first restoration Boston Valley completed was the Guaranty Building in Buffalo, New York. Thirty-five years later we are a growing company that has been awarded contracts for some of the most notable buildings around the globe. Many new products have been introduced to the construction industry but very few have been able to surpass terra cotta in terms of longevity. It is a resilient material with the ability to withstand severe climates and UV exposure.
The Krouse family takes great pride in making not only an exceptional product, but making sure our family values extend to the health and safety of all our employees. We are very proud to say we have several employees who have made Boston Valley Terra Cotta their career. We look forward to providing durable, sustainable, and beautifully designed products to the construction industry for the next thirty-five years.
The Excelsior Hotel in New York, NY is a landmarked building on the Upper West Side overlooking the American Museum of Natural History and the Rose Center for Earth and Space. Boston Valley is working to restore its stately exterior using our digital modeling and 5-axis routing capabilities.
The basic form of the column capital in the photo below was routed in plaster and our craftsmen subsequently carved the detailed scrolls and leaves onto the form with clay and plasticine. This reduced the time required to produce this mold.
Our use of Rhino on this project has assisted in understanding how the complex units such as engaged columns fit into the facade, or the sculptural quality of the decorative shield panels at the window spandrels.
The Carmelite Monastery of St. Louis, Missouri will be receiving newly restored custom twisted columns. The 16 unique supports are currently being manufactured here in Orchard Park by Boston Vally Terra Cotta.
This project was the first of its kind here at Boston Valley Terra Cotta. The project has been bid entirely for our new 3-D software and machining processes. To preserve the existing structure, the columns are split in half and will be assembled on site. The team did this in such a way that there are as few custom column sections as possible. This reduces machine and manufacture time, increasing factory throughput.
Take a look at this short clip of the 5-Axis CNC Router in full 5-Axis action on a twisted column section:
Boston Valley has received glaze color approval for the 250 Delaware Avenue project from the project’s architectural firm Diamond Schmitt and owner Uniland Development. The white satin glaze will be used on all terra cotta blocks, returning this building to its original finish. Previously, the blocks had been repaired and painted numerous times throughout their years of service.
The glazed blocks shown in the mockup (above) will be part of a column assembly. This assembly surrounds the windows and doors on the first two stories of the newly constructed building.