World Class Handmade Barrell Tile
History of Barrel Tile
Barrel Tile Roofs, An Ancient Tradition
This ancient method of hand forming barrel roof tiles dates farther back than Greek and
Roman periods. It can be found throughout the inlands and coastal regions of the
Mediterranean,South and Central America, Cuba and other former Spanish colonies in the
Caribbean as well as the United States.
From Tuscan villas in Italy to structures in
Palm Beach, Florida across to California, true handmade barrel tile is used when Purity
and Authenticity is mandatory. The unique handmade process captures the true timeless
essence beauty, texture and color shift array that cant be duplicated with mundane
machine pressed or "cookie cutter" extruded clay tiles. Architects and Developers like
Addison Misner and George Merrick noticed this as well.
In Miami, Florida as far
back as 1920, real estate developer George Merrick set out on a venture to create an
actual city from Spain , which encompassed Residential, Commercial and Government
projects within a village. This city he named "Coral Gables" or the "City Beautiful".
Merrick was a "Purist" architecturally speaking and in order to create this "Old World"
theme community , his architect Mr. Denman Fink sent an expedition to Cuba with the
intent of collecting truly unique and aged products.
"OLD TILE ROOFING" from
MERRICK'S ROMANTIC STORY OF GREAT CORAL GABLES DEVELOPMENT ;REALIZATION / TIMES UNION
JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA, SUNDAY, JUNE 28, 1925
"We came back and Coral Gables began to take form. We put up half a dozen houses as
specified in our program and then we stopped. There was something lacking in the effect
we wanted. Then we discovered that it was the roofing.
The American-manufactured tile did not harmonize with the glint of sunlight on the buildings. At the suggestion of Mr.
Fink we sent a man to Cuba and he bought several old buildings there from which we took
the old tile roofing. It was between 100 and 200 years old and had changed into a blend
of colors during the centuries that it had been exposed to the elements. We brought it
here to Coral Gables and covered one of the houses with it and found that this had been
"From that time," Mr. Merrick said, "there has not been a house
erected in Coral Gables that has not been covered with ancient, handmade tile, moulded
over the knee of the artisan. We exchange new American tile for the old. We found that
Cuba was unable to supply the demand and so we sent men into every one of the
Mediterranean countries whose style of architecture we have selected. The natives there
have not the fondness for the old tile that you would expect. They will frequently accept
in exchange American-made tile and consequently, at only a little additional cost , we
get the genuine , frequently rich in history. And we tell the owner of every house in
Coral Gables from what ancient castle, mission or public building his roof comes".
Merrick discovered and quickly purchased used "Old Cuban Roof Tile" from the
homes of the Cuban noblemen. Furthermore, he discovered that this "Cuban Tile" was
already hundreds of years old when it arrived to Cuba. Originally from Spain, it was
collected from homes, factories and outposts, then loaded on Spanish Schooners headed to
Cuba used as ordinary ship ballast. However, to Merrick it was what he needed as the
"Crowning Jewel" on each one of his achievements.
In 1926 Merrick spared no
expense and commissioned notable poet Rex Beach to write "The Miracle of Coral Gables"
Merrick was so enamored with the use of ancient handmade barrel tile it is mentioned in
this 1926 copyright, by George Edgar Merrick.
"Walls capable of such variety in
treatment can be made beautiful, but that which first strikes any eye are roofs, and
the roofs of Coral Gables are like fine old oriental rugs. Most of them are of Spanish
tile moulded by hand over the naked thighs of workmen now long dead. Cuban roofs, torn
from crumbling convents and ruined haciendas, their patterns blended,their colors
softened by tropic sun and weather, have been re laid here and they are a delight to
Finally, Merrick possessed the handmade roof tile that gave his
projects the design edge, the "OLD WORLD" look that he so desired and made his unique
community world famous. Even today exist select architects,designers and homeowners
following in his footsteps, attempting to recreate the beauty and simplicity of the
Nothing comes close to the genuine look of Handmade Clay Roof Tile. All of
our roofing tiles are Florida and Miami Dade County Product Control Approved. And of
course time approved.