Chamber News & Views: Historic Stewart metal tiles repurposed downtown |

Chamber News & Views: Historic Stewart metal tiles repurposed downtown

Ronni Hannaman
Remodeling the facades on the north side of McFadden Plaza, Mark Lopiccolo used discarded roof tiles from the Stewart Indian School.
Ronni Hannaman |

Much to the relief and delight of many residents who are so proud of Carson City’s heritage, it appears history is, indeed, the main theme of the downtown redevelopment now in progress — right down to the repurposing of historic metal tiles once keeping rain and snow off roofs at the Stewart Indian School, now being used to create visual interest on selected buildings.

The last update most residents saw of the redevelopment plans was in the 60 percent design that looked quite a bit different than what you are seeing today. Those who attended the first two open-forum workshops were asked to weigh in on how they wanted our new city center to look. Overwhelmingly, the theme selected was history, but the end result was not guaranteed.

No modern look for us that would make us look like any other recently developed cookie-cutter city was the challenge presented to the engineers and that challenge was met. We know we are uniquely Nevada – the true heart of Nevada – and want to continue to relay that message to locals and visitors.

The addition of planters stamped to look as though they had been chiseled from ancient sandstone quarried from the Nevada State Prison is a great touch, bringing focus to the remaining historic buildings built from this stone. While visually interesting, these planters will be the setting for the old-fashioned lamplights, colorful flowers and trees, and even serve as a place to sit and ponder if one of the 35 citizen-purchased benches are in use.

The biggest surprise of all in keeping the historic touch is the “new” historic look that is modern, yet old adopted by some of the businesses.

For those who haven’t been downtown in a while or might not have noticed the new surfaces on the buildings redesigned and repurposed by the Hop and Mae Adams Trust on Proctor Street, or the ones just placed in strategic spots on the north side of the buildings at McFadden Plaza, or had lunch within the Westside Pour House, here’s what I’ve been able to uncover.

Turning into a true history detective, I was able to trace down the origins of the rusty — but interestingly artistic — metal tiles.

It all began quite simply when Rowan Colgan and his partners purchased Mo & Sluggo’s, renaming it the Westside Pour House. Remodeling was the first order of business, and the owners decided a rustic look would be the way to go. Their contractor made reference to metal tiles he had saved when the roofs of some of the buildings at the Stewart Indian School were being reroofed with newer and shinier metal tiles. He showed the owners unusual tiles dubbed “wineglass tiles” and said they would be perfect for the remodel. Today, 1,000 of those unusual tiles can be found on several walls within the bar/restaurant and deserve your attention.

Miya MacKenzie – a classmate of Rowan’s – saw the tiles and thought them to be perfect to create a unique look on selected portions of exterior remodel of the brewery and other buildings owned by the Hop & Mae Adams Trust. She called the same contractor and was told the wineglass tiles were no longer available, but he had other tiles just as interesting. Those tiles today strategically grace the fronts and side of the building located on West Proctor Street and fit in perfectly with the brick work.

Enter into the picture contractor Mark Lopiccolo who, with his wife Jenny, own the buildings on Third Street, now Bob McFadden Plaza. Since the street was to be made into a permanent gathering plaza, it was time to spruce up the building facades. He, too, called the original tile contractor and was told the tiles he had left were saved from the roof of the old V&T Railroad station at the Stewart Indian School. Lopiccolo jumped at the chance to buy the remaining lot and is proud of the history behind each and every tile.

While there are no plaques — yet — to tell the interesting story of these tiles, we hope there will be. Some of the tiles could well date back to the 1890’s when Stewart Indian School was established.

Once bound for the scrap yard or dump — but saved by an enterprising contractor — these historic tiles are breathing new life to a number of downtown facades creating a unique touch only found in Carson City.