Central Park flashback 2005: Restoring the Minton tiles

On my Central Park tour, one of the more beautiful spots we see is the historic Bethesda Terrace, which provides a breathtaking transition from the Mall down to the Lake. One of many architectural highlights of this space is the Minton tile ceiling, created in the 1860s. Made up of 49 panels, the ceiling features almost 16,000 elaborately patterned encaustic tiles, handmade by England’s renowned Minton and Company.

Not fully indoors or outdoors, the arcade was conceived as an open-air reception hall that would provide visitors with shelter from rain and heat. The highlight of the arcade is the magnificent Minton Tile ceiling designed by British-born architect and designer, Jacob Wrey Mould, who also conceived of the decorative carvings throughout the Terrace. The arcade at Bethesda Terrace is the only place in the world where these Minton tiles are used for a ceiling.

But by the early 1980s, over a century of wear had threatened this beautiful ceiling, and the panels were all removed and put into storage. But two decades later, a generous donation allowed the park to begin the restoration of this landmark space. That was completed early in this century, and today we have those gorgeous back to enjoy.

This video, from 15 years ago, features Bob Vila spotlighting that restoration process: