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1881 - 1945

John Joseph Earley

A fifth generation stone carver born in New York City, Earley apprenticed in his father’s Washington, D.C. studio to learn sculpture, model making and stone carving. When his father died in 1906, Earley and his mentor Basil Taylor took over the studio, focusing on plaster and stucco craft. Working with Portland cement stucco led to experimentation with exposed aggregate concrete. At Meridian Hill Park they developed “the Earley Process,” using colored stones as aggregate, exposed by scraping away the top layer of concrete before it fully cured. The technique, which Earley called “architectural concrete,” imbued the material with color rather applying it afterward, and elevated the perception of how concrete could be used in the building industry.

The Earley Studio was prolific. Their projects include the Rosary Portico at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land; the Fountain of Time sculpture at the western edge of the Midway Plaisance in Chicago (with sculptor Lorado Taft), the Baha’i Temple of Light in Wilmette, Illinois; the Edison Memorial Tower in Menlo Park, New Jersey; and interiors at Dulles Airport, the Willard Hotel, and the White House (under Roosevelt). Working with the Federal Bureau of Standards to enhance the strength and durability of stucco and concrete, Earley patented numerous construction methods and processes.

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