Childs’ flagship location was at 21st Street and the Boardwalk on Coney Island. The building was an architectural wonder, with adornments unlike any others seen at that time. Only a visit to the building could reveal the richness of detail found in the ornament. F.S. Laurence wrote an article entitled “Building for the Childs Company at Coney Island"in which he wrote:
This use of color, accomplished chiefly through the application of polychrome terra cotta for detail against wall surfaces of soft buff colored stucco of engaging texture, is perhaps the most satisfying feature of the whole visual effect...that the result reflects an achievement in collaborative [terra-cotta] manufacture of the highest excellence is of immense significance to the future of color in architecture in America.
A wonderful range of sea creatures dotted the exterior of the building including: lobsters, fish, crabs, seahorses, clam shells, snails, octopus, and even fish heads ingeniously taking the place of the traditional egg in the egg-and-dart moldings. There were four types of expertly modeled rondels by Maxfield H. Keck depicting:
- Neptune holding a trident, and dripping with seaweed.
- A Venetian galleon with streaming pennants.
- The Golden Hine, the Flagship of Queen Elizabeth’s Fleet.
- A pair of fish swimming in the rough ocean waters.
It is hard to know whether the humor and whimsy of these creatures intertwined into all of the architectural elements or the astounding array of colored glazes was more arresting. Perhaps it is best summed up by the Atlantic Terra Cotta Company, the manufacturers of this glorious work. Their September, 1924 monthly publication titled, "The della Robbia School of Today," stated:
The brilliant polychrome Terra Cotta, instead of following the conventional flower and fruit motive of the della Robbia school, is marine to the last degree - and even submarine in part.
The carnival spirit of Coney Island demanded color; and permitted almost anything. The Childs Restaurant struck a new note of beauty in surroundings that were naturally festive.
Interestingly, as the Childs Restaurant Corporation expanded into neighborhoods throughout the city, they developed a "signature style" used for many of the restaurants. Their one-story buildings were often clad in terra cotta and ornamented with a beltcourse of pairs of intertwined seahorses. The corners of these structures often featured a huge shell with a dolphin in the center. Two of the surviving examples can be found in Queens. One is in Sunnyside at 43rd Avenue and 45th Street and the other is in Woodside at 60th Street and Queens Boulevard.