Tyson-Schoener Elementary School was built in 1928 and was named for Benjamin Tyson and Adam Schoener, local legislators who supported the establishment of free public schools in 1834. This Art Deco building features a series of terra-cotta panels depicting nursery rhymes and other scenes. These panels are distinguished for their thematic variety and subtle coloration. They also represent a generous expenditure for public art and a conception of beauty as important to education – progressive notions for the era in which the school was built. While not so dramatically modern as some Art Deco movie palaces or skyscrapers of the 1920s, this attractive school’s Art Deco style characteristics include vertical ribs, exposed metal surfaces, use of terra-cotta, and zigzag and geometric ornament.

Below: Tyson-Schoener Elementary School, 315 South 5th St, Reading, PA. Touch or Click Images to Enlarge.

Charles H. Muhlenberg V designed the building. His sister, Virginia Muhlenberg Steininger, created the decorative tiles. There are 21 tiles in all, each about 12” x 12”, in a band below the first floor windows on the school facade. Facing the front of the building, the tiles from left to right are:

Jack Be Nimble

Jack Sprat

The Fox and The Grapes

Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves

The Witch’s House: Hansel and Gretel

Columbus’ Three Ships

Lindbergh: The Spirit of St. Louis

Robinson Crusoe

Gulliver’s Travels

Jack and the Beanstalk

Miss Muffet

The Three Bears

Henny Penny

Little Red Riding Hood

Babes in the Woods


Wynken, Blynken and Nod


Sir Gallahad

William Tell’s Son

William Tell

Below: Below are photos taken in June of 2018 of the 21 tiles. The tiles are from North to South. Touch or Click Images to Enlarge.
Below: There are several more tiles by an unknown artist mounted into the lintels of the main entrance ways. Fall and Winter are to be seen over the southern doorway; between them is a medallion of a pirate ship, the ‘Aves.’ Touch or Click Images to Enlarge.

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