Cranford History

Tile Art in Cranford

Signs point the way from many people who are seeking what they need.  In Cranford, street signs point not only to the local streets, but the street signs themselves are works of art.  You can view our streets signs below.   American Tile Art features prominently in the history of Cranford, New Jersey.

These tile installations connect Cranford residents to the Tile Art Heritage of the United States. Tiles were originally produced in Trenton New Jersey at the Mueller Mosaic Tile Company, and also at the Flint Faience Tile Company of Michigan.

View the Mueller Catalog

View all of the Unique Tile Street Signs

Tile Art fireplace from a local school building.

Just prior to the demolition of the school, an emergency preservation effort handled by the Historic Preservation Advisory Board safely stored this historically significant work of art.

If you are interested in learning more about this art form, American Tile Art, consider reviewing the information at the Tile Heritage organization’s site.

If you are interested in learning more about the work of the Historic Preservation Advisory Board, visit their website or consider attending one of the monthly meetings.

The following information is reprinted from an article presented by the Trenton Historical Society:

Mueller Mosaic Company – In 1908, Herrnan Carl Mueller opened the Mueller Mosaic Company at the former location of the Artistic Porcelain Company on Chambers Street and Cedar Lane in Trenton. Under Mueller’s leadership, the Mueller Mosaic Company produced tiles for many important buildings and structures throughout the Country. Mueller Tiles adorned many subway stations in the New York City subway system-n. In Trenton, Mueller furnished tiles for the Crescent Temple and the Kelsey Memorial Building at West State and Willow Streets. Many people remember the colorful tile designs at the Rotolactor of the Walker-Gordon Dairy in Plainsboro. The Mueller Company ceased operations with the death of Mr. Mueller in 1941.



By Maureen Strazdon, Cranford Historic Preservation Advisory Board

May 2012

Even before they were all installed, Cranford’s unique street name signs were the subject of much comment and controversy.   An article from The Cranford Citizen and Chronicle of April 25, 1929 reported on the complaints the Township Committee had heard about the difficulty of reading the street sign posts.  In spite of those concerns and others expressed over the years, Cranford still boasts the signs, and the Girl Scouts of Troop 779 are documenting them.

You might have noticed that there are two types of posts.  The ones with the blue letters on yellow tiles are the originals.  The ones with yellow letters on the blue background are newer and are the posts the township is using to replace the originals.


Street signs were first installed in 1906 when the Township decided that the streets of the growing town needed name signs.  The Township Committee discussed the signs in May of that year and 190 signs were installed by Christmas.  These weren’t the posts we know today.  They were the usual street signs that you see in virtually every other town – plates with the letters running horizontally.


In early 1929 the town decided to install a new style of markers, a concrete post with the street name in blue on yellow-colored tiles set vertically.  The tiles were manufactured by Mueller Tile in Trenton and the original 200 signs, which were installed by the end of the year, cost $1,021.   One of the signs is even pictured in one of the company’s catalogs.


The Mueller Mosaic Company was established in 1908 and produced tiles for many important buildings and structures, including many New York subway stations.  They also made the Cranford Rotary sign that still stands at the corner of North and Springfield Avenues.   The Mueller Company closed in 1941 with the death of the owner.

As the original posts have been damaged or destroyed,  they have been replaced by signs with yellow letters on a blue background. 

Six Girl Scouts from Troop 779 at Hillside School have found and documented the 77 remaining posts.  The Scouts, Sarah Cuprewich, Jenna Ellenbacher, Julianne Hodgkins, Nikki Pascual, Kylie Remley, Phoebe Weiman, have chosen to work with the Historic Preservation Advisory Board on this and other projects.  The Scouts are working toward their Girl Scout Silver Award, which represents a girl’s accomplishments in Girl Scouting and her community. The Scouts have also aided in creating a database of the historical structures in town, with the Historic Cranford Scavenger Hunt, and with the Memorial Day Parade float featuring the North Cranford Historic District.


One Comment

  1. Steve
    August 1, 2012

    The “local school building” with the tiled fireplace, pictured above, was Cranford’s former (Theodore) Roosevelt School, located on Orange Avenue. Built in 1927, the buiding was later purchased from the town in 1979 and occupied by the Solomon Schechter Day School for almost three decades, prior to the building’s repurchase by Cranford and its subsequent demolition on November 9, 2010. In late February 2012, the empty site was named “Theodore Roosevelt Park” pursuant to a 4-1 vote by the Township Committee.

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