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Pie case

Pie case

Associated with: Alvarado Hotel, Fred Harvey Co. (1879 - 1970)

Manufacturer / Maker: Jewett Refrigerator Co.

Manufacturer / Maker: Ernest A. Batchelder (1876 Nashua, New Hampshire - 1957 Pasadena, California)

Department: History
Date: c. 1922
Medium: copper alloy, glass, ceramic tile, wood, lead, brass
Dimensions:
54 x 73 1/4 x 27 1/2 in. (137.2 x 186.1 x 69.9 cm)
Classification: Furnishings
Credit Line: Albuquerque Museum; museum purchase, Four Centuries Planning Fund
Object number: PC2006.49.1
DescriptionA refrigerated display case (called a pie case by locals) manufactured by the Jewett Refrigeration Company, commissioned by Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter for her 1922 remodel of the Alvarado Hotel lunchroom, decorated with La Maya style Batchelder Tile from the Batchelder Tile Co. of Los Angeles (Ernest Batchelder). Tile, copper and mahogany frame, tinned copper interior, double-glass panes. Stamped Jewett Refrigeration Company, Buffalo, NY.

The front glass is missing and the tile base has been replaced on 3 sides with oak boards. The tiled front and sides are otherwise intact. At one end and one face, the tile has been regrouted in a slightly darker grout color. The central panel at the back has a hole where electrical lines were later installed, creating 2 missing plain beige tile losses. The bottom tiles are slightly chipped along their bottom edges. The glass is replaceable and a conservator could fill and inpaint the tile loss and correct the color of the darker grout.

The case functioned originally as a display case for pastries in the Alvarado Hotel lunchroom or coffee shop. It originally may have held ice, but was later altered to receive a freezer unit (possibly after its removal from the hotel.) It was 1 of 4 free-standing cases of its kind in the coffee shop. A refrigerated case imbedded in the wall of the shop, also decorated on its perimeter with Batchelder tile, was said to be the first electrically refrigerated unit of its kind in a commercial building in Albuquerque.

The case represents the passion for architect and designer, Mary Colter, for creating one-of-a-kind furnishings for Fred Harvey buildings, overseeing to the very last detail all of the elements used for their decoration. The La Maya tile was a special tile made by the Batchelder Company, whose work embodied the ideals of the Arts and Crafts style. The framework reflects Colter's interest in coppersmithing; the corners feature cross-shaped elements. Only 4 cases were known to exist; this is the only one that has been located.

The case relates most closely to the Arts and Crafts period, including craftman furniture, metalwork and tile popular in the early 1900s. Colter used Batchelder Tile on the walls and columns in the coffee shop; she also used Batchelder Tile in her design for Chicago's Union Station. The tile has been featured in museum catalogues and scholarly publications.

The case was purchased at the 1970 Alvarado Hotel auction, but the seller doesn't recall the buyer's name. She purchased it more than 10 years ago, with the intent of placing it in her home but now needs to sell it.

The case appears in a c. 1930 photograph of the coffee shop in the Museum Photoarchives (PA1982.180.278), and also in a KNME film on the Alvarado Hotel. The film shows the case in full view, in situ, confirming that the tile is original. A second photograph appears in Berke (2002:125).
On view
Label Text:"I remember the pies, especially the cherry pie. It was solid cherries and wonderfully sweet, with a flaky crust. The lemon meringue was about six inches high. There were cantaloupes in the pie cases, but who wants cantaloupe when you can have cherry pie?"
-- Helen Horwitz, 2008

Pie case from the Alvarado Hotel lunchroom, 1922
Designed by Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter
Jewett Refrigerator Co., Buffalo, NY
Batchelder Tile Co., Los Angeles, CA
Wood, clay, copper alloy, iron, glass, wood
Museum purchase, Four Centuries Bond Fund
PC2006.49.1

Fred Harvey architect Mary Jane Colter was fond of metals and designed iron, tin, copper, and bronze into her lunchroom and lounge renovations. The design demonstrates Colter's ability to infuse projects with her own creative touches and to use the materials of other artisans to their best advantage.

The cases contained fruit, rolls, cake, and pie. Unlike today's portion, one Fred Harvey-style serving was one-fifth of a pie.


Pie case from the lunchroom, 1922
Jewett Refrigerator Co., Buffalo, NY
Batchelder Tile Co., Los Angeles, CA
Wood, clay, copper alloy, iron, glass, wood
Museum purchase, Four Centuries Bond Fund
PC2006.49.1

Having practiced copper smithing in the 1890s, Mary Colter was fond of metals and designed iron, tin, copper, and bronze into her lunchroom and lounge renovations. The case design demonstrates Colter's ability to infuse projects with her own creative touches and to use the materials of other artisans to their best advantage.