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Museum of Ceramics, the

400 East Fifth Street
East Liverpool, Ohio

Phone: 330-386-6001 -- 800 600 7180

Statement of Purpose:

East Liverpool's location on the Ohio River and the regional abundance of clay -as well as the dynamic leadership of its pioneers and later entrepreneurs molded a small frontier settlement on the Ohio River into a thriving city of artisans.

For generations, East Liverpool was to the American ceramics industry what Pittsburgh was to steel and Detroit was to automobile manufacturing. From the mid-eighteenth century until the 1930s, East Liverpool reigned over the nation's ceramics production as "America's Crockery City." Although the ceramics industry declined steadily in the mid-twentieth century, the area's citizens remain proud of their role in molding this distinctive American industry.


Early settlers of the East Liverpool area discovered an abundant supply of natural clays that were well-suited for a variety of products. Production was limited at first, as a few individuals made utilitarian crockery.

But by the late 1830s, entrepreneurs began to realize that the area's abundance of clay and coal could bring financial success to those who could use the Ohio River to ship large amounts of pottery to the growing markets for locally manufactured products.

The first of these entrepreneurs was English-born James Bennet, who in 1839 established the town's first pottery with the help of his brother and other skilled craftsmen. Although the operation moved to Pittsburgh in 1844, other local entrepreneurs emulated Bennet's success. The skill and energy of potters such as Benjamin Harker, William Brunt, Jabez Vodrey, Thomas Croxall, William Bloor, and John Goodwin carried the I industry through its infancy. I The immigration of pottery I workers from England's I Staffordshire district proI vided skilled labor, as well I as the expertise to open new works. Concentrating | exclusively in the produc| tion of yellow ware and | Rockingham pottery, for | which the local materials I were most suitable, East | Liverpool potteries cemented | their advantageous position I in the emerging American crockery industry.

Highlights & Collections:

By the 1870s, the expansion of the national rail system allowed potteries to import the raw materials needed to produce whiteware, which became more popular with American consumers than the area's yellow ware and Rockingham pottery. Technological innovations such as the automatic jigger that shaped ceramic pieces semimechanically, replacing skilled artisans with less-skilled laborers - spurred potteries into greater mass production.

As a result of these changes, the late nineteenth century was a time of tremendous prosperity in East Liverpool. By 1900, the town was known as "America's Crockery City," the center of U.S. pottery - a title it would hold for decades.


The growth of the pottery industry drove the growth of the city of East Liverpool. As established potteries expanded and new potteries opened, demand for unskilled labor increased. Immigrants flocked to East Liverpool, swelling the city's population ten- fold between 1870, when it had a population of 2,000, and 1910, when it was a city of more than 20,000.

East Liverpool was a one-industry town. In 1900, more than 90 percent of East Liverpool's industrial wage earners were employed in the manufacture of ceramics.

The industry's impact, however, was not limited to population. Between 1870 and 1910, the city experienced tremendous physical growth. With prime locations along the Ohio River already claimed, new potteries were forced to locate in outlying areas, expanding the city's boundaries.

Exhibits & Special Events:

By 1910, though, the boom had reached its peak. Changes in tariff policy, which had sheltered domestic production, made foreign ceramics less expensive and easier to import. Many items that had been made from ceramics became available in glass or tin, which were cheaper and less likely to break. The Great Depression of the 1930s delivered another blow, further decreasing East Liverpool's importance as a pottery center.


The Museum of Ceramics occupies the former city post office, which was built in 1909 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The state of Ohio bought the building from the federal government in 1970. Extensively renovated during the 1970s, the building opened as the Museum of Ceramics in 1980.

The renovated museum's solid-oak trim, ornately decorated domed ceilings, and beautiful marble-and-terrazzo floor provide a stunning backdrop for its exhibits. Displays include an extensive array of wares produced by East Liverpool potteries in their heyday, as well as dioramas showing how ceramics were created. Other exhibits depict the growth and development of the community and the lives of its people.

Among the museum's most prized pieces are examples of Lotus Ware, which was produced by Knowles, Taylor, and Knowles for only a few years during the 1890s. Noted for its pure-white lustrous finish, graceful shapes, and exquisite detailing, Lotus Ware is considered by some to be the finest ever produced in the United States.

On May 31, 2008, the Museum of Ceramics lost 93% of funding from the Ohio Historical Society (OHS). After 28 years as a fully-funded site of the OHS, it is now managed by the Museum of Ceramics Foundation. Efforts to find new alternative sources of support are ongoing. Every donation is greatly appreciated.


For more information:  1 800- 600-7180 or 330-386-6001

Admission & Directions:

Come visit us soon! You'll enjoy the nation's largest public display of award-winning porcelain Lotus Ware, made a few blocks away in the 1890's, is considered to be possibly the finest porcelain ever produced in the United States, . We also have dozens of W.P.A. era paintings, hundreds of artifacts, and thousands of ceramic items. Here is the history of this former Pottery Capital of the nation.


Key Personnel:

Ms. Sarah W. Vodrey, Director

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