church street philadelphia

Hidden Gems of Old City – Part I

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509px-Christ_Church_Philadelphia_1876

paul kearsley 2009 by jim sergovicPAUL KEARSLEY, DIRECT descendant of mid-1700s builder & architect Dr. John Kearsley*,  said to me a while back, “Hey, Woodman, what’s with the tile mosaic in the coffee shop bathroom?”  We had just enjoyed a private tour of Christ Church, at one time the most sumptuous church in the colonies, as well as the tallest structure in North America.  And now, down the street, we find ourselves in  Old City Coffee, where he noted the dual tourist-friendly customer washrooms, one of which sported a cut-tile mosaic.  While not exactly in the style of Isaiah Zagar, clearly there was an influence.  

tile closeup

Zagar made a name for himself throughout the 1960s onward as the premier cracked-tile mosaic artist, covering vast areas with his images. This bathroom mosaic was different. The tile was cut and arranged into a private story, the interpretation being at the sole discretion of the viewer.  The key word here is cut, as in sliced on a wet-saw.  Someone put a lot of work into it.

When walking through the area years later, I noted a tasteful renovation had rendered the  bathroom to an employees-only area.  Thus, this mosaic qualifies for Hidden Treasure status.  The creator is rumored to be a wanna-be-artist plumber.

*** Paul Kearsley’s great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-granduncle was  Dr. John Kearsley, the architect/builder of Christ Church.  But, disappointingly, the Doctor didn’t get the commission for Independence Hall, narrowly losing out to a design by Edmund Woolley and Andrew Hamilton.     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independence_Hall