Vintage Tin Ceilings
Delightful, Old-Time Art in a Vintage Tin Ceiling
Vintage Tin Ceilings in Kansas
Some years back, I wandered with my camera through the small town of Whitewater in Butler County, Kansas. Many of the buildings date back to more prosperous times and still retain their stamped tin ceilings. Tin ceilings were popular in America from the 1890s to the 1930s.
The tin designs are square pieces that fit together to form an intricate pattern. The one above is the ceiling in the Victorian Rose, that was a combination florist and gift shop. I checked recently to see if it is still open, but it seems to have transitioned to a day spa.
Other places in Whitewater where you can see the tin ceilings is in the old bank building. It is painted and in fine condition.
If you stop by the town to see the old tin ceilings, take some time to admire the wonderful woodwork in the bank as well.
I researched how these ceilings were made and found that you can still get them. This is great news for anyone restoring an old building to it's original glory.
What Are the Tiles Made of?
Since they are called tin ceilings, I just assumed they were made of tin. When I did some research, I found a company that carries over 90 different patterns of these. In their FAQ section, they provided this information:
The authentic, historically correct material is tin plated steel. They offer it in its raw form as well as painted. The raw form is the most economical option, but it has to be painted from both sides.
The company also sells metal ceiling tiles made of aluminum and copper. They didn't make those back in the good-old-days, for sure.
Many thanks to DecorativeCeilingTiles for this information.
Tin Ceiling in Whitewater Bank Building
Where Did They Make These Ceilings?
Anita Harvey McDaniel informed me that many of these tin ceilings were made in Webb City or in Nevada, a small town in Missouri that's not far from Kansas. The factory in Webb City still has the forms and makes metal for special orders.
The one in Nevada is going strong. It's called the W.F. Norman Corporation. This video gives the whole history and shows how the tin ceilings are made.
Where Can You See Old Tin Ceilings?
Here's a sampling of buildings in Kansas where the vintage tin ceilings are still in place. The best places to look are the tiny, sleepy-looking towns that haven't modernized all their downtown stores.
- Haviland Hardware, 114 N. Main in Haviland, KS.
- Halley’s Junction, 101 N. High, an old red-brick store in Belvedere, KS.
- The Farmhouse (restaurant), 400 2nd Street in Olsberg, KS.
- The cafe in Elgin, right on the OK/KS border. (not sure if this is open)
- Post office, McFarland, KS.
- Be Made Mercantile, 801 Main Street in Hays, KS.
Sometimes, one has been preserved even in larger cities.
- The Anchor (a restaurant), 1109 E Douglas Ave, Wichita, KS.
- The Old Tasty Shop - Wichita, KS.
You'll also see them in Missouri as well.
- The Fred Restaurant, 501 High Street, Boonville, MO. The building (Hotel Frederick) is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
- A hardware store on the square in Carthage, MO.
How Are the Ceilings Installed?
These are all over the state of Kansas. Look for old buildings that are still in business most have the old metal ceilings.
Kansas Towns with Many Historic Buildings
These towns were recommended to me by the Kansas History Geeks group on Facebook. Individuals said they were good places to view the old pressed-tin ceilings.
- Council Grove
- Fort Scott
© 2018 Virginia Allain