When the Mayor of Jersey City asked for some flooring to be removed in a civic building he had no idea of the Potteries treasure that was lurking beneath it.
For the past 60 years that old vinyl had been covering up beautiful Minton tiles hand-crafted in North Staffordshire.
Now the tiles have been cleaned, restored and are set to become a visitor attraction once people are allowed back into Jersey City Hall in New Jersey, the United States, once again.
Steven Fulop, the Mayor of Jersey City, said: “We never imagined we’d uncover such a majestic piece of history underneath the 60-year-old vinyl flooring. It’s been exciting to find out more and more about the tiles, and to have people from all over the world reach out to share information and share their pictures.”
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He had ordered renovation work during the pandemic, which saw the vinyl flooring torn away and the tiles re-discovered decades after they were covered up.
Mayor Fulop shared before and after photographs on social media, which went on to be liked and retweeted thousands of times.
One Twitter user said: ““This instantly switches the impression of the building from 70s office frustration to beautiful landmark.”
It is believed that the tiles were first laid in around 1896, when the building was built, and then covered over in the 1960s.
Minton tiles grace some of the grandest buildings around the world including the Houses of Parliament and the Capitol Building in Washington.
Now Mayor Fulop hopes the find will help to attract visitors to New Jersey.
He said: ““We’ve since cleaned and restored the floor, and the tiles have remained in great shape since they were installed when the building opened in 1896.
“I expect residents and visitors to seek out City Hall once we fully reopen to get a glimpse of the ornate tiles firsthand and to feel that sense of history that now colourfully paints our hallways.”
Mintons Ltd was established in 1793 by Thomas Minton. In 1845 it became the tile making firm Minton, Hollins & Company
A victim of the decline of the Pottery industry, Minton merged with Royal Doulton and by the 1980s was left manufacturing only a few remaining shapes of tableware. The factory was torn down in the 1990s.
The Minton Archive was saved for the nation in 2015 after a public appeal and a £1.16 million grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund.