Decorative tiles in historic interiors fascinated writers and wanderers in the era of antiquarian writing and highways-and-byways literature of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It was not uncommon to find tiles removed from houses as relics of a bygone past. The earliest known note about tiles missing from Stenton comes from Howard Edwards, who visited in 1867, "... above and around were numerous square tiles, the latter having been, for some reason, removed." On a return visit in 1878, Edwards noted, "Visitors are not now admitted except upon written permit from one of the family, this restriction being in place because of vandals and relic hunters who had stolen the tiles from the fireplaces." Photo above: Corner of the fireplace in the White Lodging Room, showing remaining Biblical Dutch tiles and the damage and "ghosts" from tile removal. Maria Dickinson Logan Photo Collection, Stenton Archives.
Just as the Stenton Historic Structures Report went to "press" in 1982, Logan descendant, Mrs. William Heatley, presented The Colonial Dames with 27 5" x 5" blue-and-white Biblical tiles. She inherited the then-framed tiles from her father, Wilson Longstreth Smith. She believed it likely that the tiles were removed by her grandfather, Horace J. Smith, or her great grandfather, John Jay Smith, who both lived at Ivy Lodge in Germantown, when it seemed that Stenton might be sold out of the family. (Stenton HSR, 258-259). Photo: Eight of the tiles presented to Stenton by Mrs. Heatley in 1982, installed in the Office fireplace surround.
Photo Captions: 1) The Colonial Dames collected old, somewhat mis-matched, tin-glazed earthenware tiles for the White Lodging Room (here sporting its 1980s second-period pink paint), which they installed about 1910. 2) The Room Deborah Logan called "Papa's Parlor" had likely been a gentleman's office in its 18th-century use. Here you see it with an added mantel shelf and the Franklin fireplace that George and Deborah Logan installed to more efficiently heat the room. Note the plain white tin-glazed tiles in the surround. We recently found these tiles in a box in the attic behind some unused Christmas decorations under the cupola stairs. 3) The Franklin stove sitting (not installed) in the Blue Lodging Room fireplace since 1982. 4) A recent view of the Heatley tiles as reinstalled in 1982. The top two rows are from Mrs. Heatley, with other 18th-century blue-and-white tiles added to fill in below. 5) Perhaps a Stenton-inspired illustration, from Townsend Ward’s The Germantown Road and Its Associations: Part Second. Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 1881.