ACL Project List

The Western Clay campus comprises an impressive thirty-two buildings over twenty-six acres, illustrating three generations of manufacturing technology mixed among contemporary and historic structures. Recognizing the significance of this landscape as both local and national heritage, a phased site documentation and recording project was initiated in June of 2011. Employing various recording techniques—from hand-measured drawings and rectified photography to laser scanning—the team sought to fully document the exceptionally rare downdraft kilns. A thorough understanding of both the evolution of the site and the current condition and integrity of its buildings will help the partners visualize and plan for the future of this remarkable example of American industrial heritage.


Field documentation of kiln metal closure system.

ACL files (2011)


Comparison of Kiln No. 8 interior photographs taken in 1985 by Fred Quivik (left) and in 2011 by Joseph Elliot (right).


Photography was the medium selected to mediate several scales of on-site investigation, beginning with broad, contextual shots to assist with architectural description before zooming in to record detailed conditions for materials analysis. HABS-level photography was utilized to recreate existing historical images of the plant, and to document buildings erected since the last large-scale site survey took place as part of a National Register nomination in 1985. Methods and equipment included a digital 35mm Canon SLR camera, a digital medium format Hasselblad camera, and a 4x5 inch format film camera.

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Field recording and documentation of downdraft kilns.


On account of its high integrity and good physical condition, downdraft Kiln No. 7 was selected for extensive recording and documentation. The aim of recording work at Kiln No. 7 was to provide a better understanding of construction methods, material components, and functionality—knowledge which would be applicable to all the kilns at Western Clay. This work focused on three features of the kiln: the masonry structure, metal components, and the shed covering. Recording encompassed rectified photographs of kiln interiors and exteriors for condition survey, mid-range laser scanning of site and kiln interiors, annotated drawings and photographs of kiln alterations and additions, and selective material analysis for an assessment of the structure's overall wellbeing. The final product is a set of as-built drawings of the kilns, which will facilitate recommendations for a phased program of temporary stabilization, reuse, and interpretation of the Western Clay site and structures.



Interior of Kiln No. 7. Photo: J. Elliott (2011)