Aside from design, one of the foremost properties considered by architects and builders was the ability to be fireproof. This is precisely why stucco, concrete and brick were so popular, and why asbestos was so common in stucco mix, shingles, siding, flooring and other items used in construction.
Finishes for Duretta varied; most items were finished to look like wood, and the company claimed that when so finished, it was practically indistinguishable from the real think. Other pieces were finished to look like hammered metal, and still others were provided a special, more durable finish for exterior work.
G.E. Walter was not the only manufacturer to follow this route – other companies like Cleveland’s Fischer & Jirousch (still in business) also developed similar products, like O’Kast (“oak cast”) which also mimicked the look of carved wood. Some of these old wood panel designs are still available, though I do not believe the O’Kast material is still being used in production.