Grueby Fireplace Acquired By Two Red Roses Foundation
September 20, 2005
Tarpon Springs, FL -- Just weeks after announcing the acquisition of a complete set of Grueby tiles originally installed in a Cleveland bathroom, founder and the president of the Two Red Roses Foundation, Rudy Ciccarello, became the successful bidder on a rare and important Grueby tile fireplace surround sold at Kaminski's recent auction. The large-scale fireplace featured a two-panel sailing ship at the center of a green-glazed field, with heavy brackets and moldings supporting a mantel shelf almost six feet high.
The mantel facing was removed from an Auburn, Maine, storefront that had changed hands many times since the late Nineteenth Century. The building is currently undergoing renovation for a restaurant.
In 1903, the First National Bank remodeled the space as their public banking offices, adding a handsome, heavily barred front door, mahogany-stained counters, wainscoting and paneling, and leaded glass windows, all meant to convey prosperity and confidence. The Grueby ship fireplace was installed in the lobby as a focal point.
According to a souvenir booklet published at the time, "The fireplace and mantel of mahogany and green tinted Grueby tiles is the most striking single feature of the banking rooms." The ship is a two-masted carrack, a Fifteenth Century Mediterranean cargo ship associated with international exploration and commerce, a romantic icon for a financial institution. With its billowing sails and banners, this powerful vessel charging across the sea also recalls Maine's own glory days as a ship-building powerhouse.
All of the tiles and faience elements of the fireplace will be restored and eventually reassembled in their original configuration.