Ludowici-Celadon has been a partner in progress with New Lexington for over a century. First constructed as a brick factory in 1902, the tile plant has become nationally as a source of the nation’s finest clay roofing tiles.
Source Perry Tribune
The list of private and government buildings holding Ludowici tile roods is almost endless and includes the American Telephone and Telegraph office complex in Basking Ridge, New Jersey and the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland.
There also is the reconstructed colonial capital of Virginia at Williamsburg, Rockefeller Center in New York, U.S. Departments of Justice, Commerce and Labor, FBI building, National Gallery of Art plus there is Ludowici Tile on American embassies across the globe.
While Ludowici’s involvement with Perry County stretches back to the early 20th century, the company itself had its beginnings in the 17th century. At this time, there was a family of prominent potters by the name of Ludovisi living in Rome. Their clay products and roofing tiles were used extensively throughout Italy and other Mediterranean countries.
They produced tiles of Roman and Greek design much like those that the current Ludowici Company had supplied for use on structures such as the Pennsylvania state capitol. A branch of the family later moved to Germany and started production of clay tiles under the Germanized name of Ludowici.
Roofing tile made its appearance in the United State by the mid-18th century, the Celadon Terra Cotta Company began its tile production in Alfred, New York in 1888. By 1893, some of the Ludowici manufacturing methods were brought to the United States as the first Ludowici factory in America was built in Chicago, Illinois.
Celadon Terra Cotta purchased the Imperial Brick Plant in New Lexington in 1902, after the acquisition, the plant is converted into the largest clay roof tile plant in the United States.
Ludowici-Celadon was formed in 1906 when Ludowici Roof Tile acquired the Celadon Roofing Tile Company and Western Roofing Tile Company from Coffeyville, Kansas.
At one point in the 1920’s, Ludowici-Celadon operated as many as six plants throughout the United States, however with the advent of improved production techniques, company officials eventually decided that the Tile Plant in New Lexington could efficiently and profitably supply the company’s market needs. Tile plants in New York and Georgia were destroyed by fire and plants in Kansas and Georgia were eventually closed, leaving the New Lexington Tile plant as the lone manufacturing site for Ludowici Tile in the country.
The New Lexington facility had fallen on hard times following the Depression and during World War II. Factory workers would produce terra cotta cookie jars to stay busy and employed.
In 1958, C.S.C. Incorporated of Chicago purchased Ludowici-Celadon Company. Soon after, in 1960, Ludowici was selected to reproduce all the interlocking terra cotta roof tiles that were glazed in real gold on the New York Life building in Manhattan.
Ludowici-Celadon was sold again in 1976 to CertainTeed, Inc., a division of Saint-Gobain, a French multinational corporation with headquarters in Paris that produces a variety of construction and high-performance materials.
The company took on another large project soon after the sale when Ludowici was selected to reproduce all the historical terra cotta on the Pennsylvania State Capital Building.
The company continues to thrive in the 21st century and has taken on more projects starting with the grand opening of its Factory of Ideas facility in New Lexington in 2007 and renovation projects involving the Plaza Hotel in New York in 2008 and Duke University in 2009, a project that replaced original Ludowici Roof Tiles from 1927 with exact replicas of the original.
The Ludowici Company continues to be a presence in New Lexington with the opening of its Factory of Ideas and the donation of land for a public park area.
Source Perry Tribune