December 21 2004


Anne and Edward Nocera, the artists at Nocera Art Tile Studio (NATS), Milanville, PA have a long held ambition to educate people about the culture and history of an art that embodies the difficult balance between artistry and science. Art tile elevates the physical essence of clay and earthen minerals into an object that achieves elegance by being both gracefully refined and functional.

The Noceras have turned to the Tile Heritage Foundation, a non profit organization in Healdsburg, CA. for help in achieving their goal. They have applied to become a "THF Tile Joint". If NATS meets all the requirements, the Tile Heritage Foundation will officially designate their studio as a place where interested art lovers can browse the Nocera’s library of contemporary and historic art tile books and discuss the artists’ personal art tile collection. An important feature of the Nocera’s THF Tile Joint will be the descriptive list or map of Wayne County tile installations. Anne and Ed are working on that now. A secondary benefit of their research will be to identify related arts, such as mosaics and terra cotta building ornament.


As we expand and remodel our existing world, increasing numbers of old tiles as well as terra cotta and brick facades are torn away, thoughtlessly discarded and lost forever. Why should we care about the fate of ceramic surfaces in America? Because this is our heritage- ceramic tiles are an acknowledgment of something larger than ourselves, a story and a means of communication as old as mankind. Tiles are a hand print which reflects the past as well as a footprint into the future. They’re about art, ingenuity and emotion as much as a painting on canvas, and are often more enduring and user friendly. The hands and spirit of everyone who touches the tile along the path to its final installation place, to the people see it or who live surrounded by it, love its vibrating with the life force that echoes down the corridor of time. Thus, safekeeping ceramic surfaces today is an integral part of preserving ourselves, a means of being remembered and understood by future generations.


The Noceras meet all the THF requirements to become a "Tile Joint", except one. They need to identify and list Wayne County tile installations of historic character. The most likely places in older private homes are fireplace surrounds, entrance floors, kitchens and bathrooms that have been preserved, or are even in disrepair. Occasionally utility outbuildings have been found with tile, and even loose single or sets of old tile tell us their story. Exterior chimney work may also be a place to spot a decorative insert. When a tile site is located, the Noceras hope to obtain the owner’s permission to take digital photos for the record. The Tile Heritage Foundation has the expertise to identify the origins of most antique tiles. Sometimes, this information may have a positive effect on the real estate value of a property.


The interiors and exteriors of public buildings, such as churches, temples, state and county buildings may hold tile of historic value. At present, the only site listings are outside Wayne County. The critical need is to find our county’s tile, interesting brickwork and mosaics. The site list contains the Lackawanna Station in Scranton, and in Wilkes-Barre, the Luzerne County Court House (mosaics), the Masonic temple and the Kirby Center. In addition, Ed and Anne have learned the same city has an Orthodox Jewish Temple which has the potential to be included im the site list and must be located.


The Wayne County Historical Society invites you to join Anne and Ed Nocera in their historic venture to unearth the ceramic traditions which beautify our homes and towns in Wayne County. We need you to play a vital role in stimulating public appreciation and support for our national ceramic treasure. You can invest in preserving one of America's most permanent, yet vulnerable, artistic traditions in a very easy way. If you know of any private or public interiors or exteriors that contain ceramic tile, intricate brickwork and mosaics, please consider passing the information on to them. Anne Nocera may be e-mailed at , called at 570-729-7946 or written to at HC1 Box 1374 Milanville, PA 18443.