Shoptalk—deciphering architectural and historic preservation jargon one word at a time!
a type of 16th-century Venetian marble mosaic in which Portland cement is used as a matrix (bonding agent); composite of small fragments of colored marble or other stone, embedded irregularly in cement or resin, ground and polished for a smooth finish; ); typically used in buildings for flooring, bases, borders, wainscoting, stair treads, partitions, and other wall surfaces (Source: Arthur E. Burke, J. Ralph Dalzell and Gilbert Townsend, Architectural and Building Trades Directory, American Technical Society, 1950.)
According to the National Terrazzo & Mosaic Association, terrazzo was first laid in the United States by Italian craftsman in 1890 in the Vanderbilt residence in New York City. Between an influx of highly skilled Italian immigrants and the invention of the electric grinder, terrazzo became the flooring of choice throughout the United States after World War I. (Source: National Terrazzo & Mosaic Association, Inc., A Brief History of Terrazzo, accessed Sep. 23, 2015.)
The Catalogue and Design Book, published in 1951, presented five reasons to install terrazzo that still stand today.
(Source: The National Terrazzo & Mosaic Association, Inc. and The Manufacturers Division Inc. of the N. T. & M. Association, Catalogue and Design Book, 3rd Edition, 1951, Page 38.)
Let’s see #4 in action. “Color and Deisgn—Terrazzo has a warmth and beauty. You may specifiy any design you wish—pictorial or geometric—in virtually any combination of colors.”
Terrazzo was used at the Kansas Masonic Grand Lodge to display the sqaure and compasses on the floor of the main entry hall.
At Treanor’s Topeka office, Firehouse #5 built in 1935, terrazo was can be found throughout the first floor.
The Catalogue and Design Book provided great design examples including this example of terrazzo used to advertise a product.
(Source: The National Terrazzo & Mosaic Association, Inc. and The Manufacturers Division Inc. of the N. T. & M. Association, Catalogue and Design Book, 3rd Edition, 1951, Page 109.)