California Pottery and Tile Works (CalPot) has completed its latest historic restoration – a 3,700-square-foot tile mosaic wall that is part of the Fort Moore Memorial in downtown Los Angeles.
The memorial is clearly visible on the west side of Hill Street between Chinatown and downtown. Drivers probably wondered what was going on behind the green protective mesh scaffolding that protected the tile mosaic during restoration.
CalPot’s artisans created around 300,000, 1-by-1 and 1-by-2-inch porcelain tiles. They meticulously hand-cut all tiles individually from ram-pressed, 12-inch by 12-inch clay. Laguna Clay Company of City of Industry, a longtime partner in CalPot’s projects, custom-blended the clay to duplicate the mosaic’s original colors and layout.
The tiles were set in custom grids and face-mounted to ensure 100 percent adhesion to the wall surface for the final grouting process.
The CalPot project replaces the original tile mosaic that backed a waterfall fountain when the memorial was dedicated in 1958. The waterfall was turned off in 1977 due to a drought, and grout and tiles became brittle, loosened and fell off the monument during the four decades since.
Los Angeles County Department of Public Works restored the monument under the guidance of Conservator Donna Williams, Los Angeles County Arts Commission Deputy Director of Collections Clare Haggarty, DPW Project Manager David Palma, lead architect Ludwing Juarez of Sparano+Mooney Architecture and contractor MTM Construction. As with many of its tile projects, CalPot worked closely with Continental Marble and Tile Company on the installation.