Tenement Terracotta Revealed

One of the most unique buildings in Aberdeen restored 

During COVID, Aberdeen City Heritage Trust provided a Building Repair grant to help owners reroof , carry out essential repairs and reveal some unusual terracotta at an architectural curiosity in Dee Street.

The late C19th/ early C20th granite tenement is adorned with Beaux Art architectural terracotta. Moulded decorative panels and heads had been overpainted for decades but the intricate details are now revealed in all their glory. More typically used with brick, the moulded terracotta  may have been used as an economical way of introducing fine architectural detail to the Category C Listed Building, difficult or costly to achieve by carving granite.  Terracotta (literally baked earth)  had its origins in ancient civilisations as long as 10,000 years ago, but became popular in architectural panels in the late C19th and early C20th. While there are many thousands of chimney pots in Aberdeen and the statue of Ceres above Archibald Simpson’s is painted terracotta,  decorative use in granite walling of this type is unique in Aberdeen.

A specialist steam cleaning system allowed the paint to be removed without harming the terracotta detail. The Trust worked with Historic Environment Scotland to ensure the listing for the property was brought up to date to reflect the use of the material, but there remains a mystery. Who commissioned the building and why was terracotta used?

Building repair and restoration was carried out by Graeme W Cheyne (Builders) Ltd, overseen by J V Carroll, Architectural Technologists.

Trust Building Repair Grants  are supported by Historic Environment Scotland.