So You’ve Got a Batchelder Fireplace? What Does that Mean?

Batchelder
According to the MLS (Multiple Listing Service), 218 properties referenced having a “Batchelder Fireplace” in the past year – 28 of those here in the greater Hancock Park area.  It is the fireplace home buyers ask for by name and Realtors tout prominently in their advertising.   It is also one of the more mispronounced amenities in a home sale listing. I’ve heard more than a few buyers inquire about a “bachelor” fireplace, but I think that’s something entirely different.

credit vintageseattleorg

So where did the ubiquitous fireplace get its name, to what does the name refer, and how do you know if you’ve got one?

Ernest Batchelder was an artist and educator who became a leader in the American Arts and Crafts movement, and a prominent member of the Southern California arts and cultural community.  In 1909 he built a kiln at his Pasadena residence and began the business of creating hand-crafted art tiles, which in a short time became hugely popular.

Not unlike Thomas Edison, who not only was smart enough to invent the light bulb but had the sufficient business acumen to market it, Batchelder was brilliant at marketing his beautiful tiles.  His business quickly transformed from a backyard hobby to a building phenomena, spreading like wildfire throughout the west coast and ultimately the country.  He offered his goods though a fireplace catalog, and builders jumped at his well-crafted product.

batchelder-treeSome of the familiar traits of a Batchelder tile include a neutral color palette – think browns – and square tiles that often feature animals, birds, flowers and rosettes. The four tile tree, featured at left, is from a mantle recently restored by two Beachwood Canyon owners who stripped away many coats of white paint to uncover this elegant design.

The website Tile Nut has put the original Batchelder tile catalog online making it possible to look through many of Batchelder’s specific mantle designs and tile configurations.

In a world where home buyers are quickly reshaping kitchens, bathrooms and other parts of a home into a more modern aesthetic, the tile work of Ernest Batchelder and his fireplaces have stood the test of time.   If you’ve got one enjoy it, don’t paint it, and make sure your Realtor prominently features it when you sell!

As with any claim you make about your home, do all you can to ensure you really do have a Batchelder fireplace before making that claim.  There are numerous sites out there that show samples of his tile; below are two links I’ve found helpful in learning about Batchelder tile.

Batchelder-plan
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About Chase Campen

Chase Campen is a Realtor with Keller Williams Larchmont. A Windsor Square resident for the last nine years, he resides with his wife Angelique, son Hunter (9), and daughters Paris (9) and Scarlett (7). When he's not representing buyers and sellers of real estate, Chase enjoys giving back to the community in a myriad of ways. He's a Past-President and Advisory Board member of the Wilshire Rotary Club, belongs to numerous other organizations, and enjoys coaching little league teams across a variety of sports. To reach Chase, pick your favorite method: 323-788-4663, chasecampen@gmail.com, www.larchmontliving.com, @chasecampen"

4 thoughts on “So You’ve Got a Batchelder Fireplace? What Does that Mean?

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed Chase Campen’s article about Batchelder fireplaces. Why anyone would paint over one is crazy. Glad to hear about the loving restoration and to see the remarkable results!

  2. I discovered my batchelder fireplace about 12 years ago. I was talking to an antique dealer and described it to her. She told me to look up Batchelder. Sure enough. I found it in his catalogue. It’s in perfect condition. My house was built in 1924 in an old neighborhood of East Sacramento. It’s fireplace design #262. I would be happy to send a picture. Do you know of any other Batchelder fireplaces in Sacramento?
    Deborah Gettys
    1057 41st street
    Sacramento, ca 95819

    1. My Parent s, home has a Batchelder fire place. .We are going to
      Sell the Home, I would like to inform buyers the worth of the craftsmanship.
      Build in 1926. English Tudor. How much is it worth.
      It’s a Cover Wagon theme..
      Thank you,
      Anna

  3. There is a location listed on booking.com in Pasadena, CA called “THE PATRICIAN HOLLYWOOD UNIVERSAL” which features an entire floor of Batchelder tile. I haven’t seen this type of application before.

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