Historical Arts & Casting, Inc.’s (HACI) team of designers, engineers, artists and craftsmen were brought together in 1973 to recreate traditional cast metal ornamentation for significant restoration projects across the country.
HACI's origins date back to the restoration of the ZCMI Department Store's cast-iron façade in Salt Lake City, Utah. This being one of the first cast-iron restorations in the country, the Baird brothers: David, Richard and Robert, working under the direction of their father: restoration architect Steven T. Baird, re-discovered the skills and techniques required to restore and build cast metal ornament. After searching in vain for a company suited to reproduce the necessary components, HACI assembled their own small team of artisans to create the necessary castings. Sculptors and pattern makers developed scales for each type of metal alloy, ensuring that cast pieces would shrink to the desired size during cooling and yet retain their shapes and proportions.
HACI foundry workers revived old methods of sand molding and lost wax foundry processes to cast the intricate pieces. They also devised support systems to attach the finished ornamentation to the structure. Through trial and error, HACI architects and artisans replaced every damaged or missing piece of metal ornamentation, authentically restoring the entire four-story ZCMI façade.
It was this nucleus of artisans and craftsmen that later became Historical Arts & Casting, Inc. To our knowledge, HACI was the only organization able to produce workable ornamental metal designs and finished pieces. The Friends of Cast Iron Architecture, a national organization, took note of HACI’s accomplishments and publicized their unique abilities. Since virtually no other designers and artisans were skilled in this area, HACI was kept busy producing authentic metal ornamentation for projects all across the country, including a number of famous structures listed on the National Historic Register.
With the rediscovery of cast metal ornamentation methods, prominent architects from around the country started calling HACI to help with modern buildings by re-creating, combining and modifying styles from different periods. HACI designed innovative and award-winning ornamentation for projects from coast to coast. HACI has improved on the cast iron concept by using modern alloys, which are more durable and corrosion resistant than simple iron. New finishes allow ornamentation to look like iron, stone, marble, terra cotta or other materials, making ornamental metal a flexible building alternative. Additionally, traditional casting methods have been combined with mass production principles to keep ornamental metal an economical building alternative.
HACI artisans have since developed a national reputation and have established a high standard of excellence for architectural metal restoration and replication. Today, creations from Historical Arts & Casting, Inc. adorn some of the most significant projects, both old and new, in North America and around the world. Every year, new and seemingly bigger projects incorporate cast metal ornamentation as a major part of their designs. Indeed, there is a modern cast-metal revival.