Saturday, May 9, 2015
Touring Rookwood Pottery
Rookwood Pottery, Mt. Adams (ca. 1910)
Last Friday we joined an OLLI class for a tour of the Rookwood Pottery Company in Cincinnati's Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. Rookwood is a Cincinnati icon. We have Rookwood fireplaces on our first and second floor, as do many local homes. The company was founded in 1880 by Maria Longworth Nichols Storer, the daughter of a Cincinnati real estate tycoon. Storer had been inspired by Japanese and French pottery that she saw at the centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, and she was determined to create comparable quality in an American firm. Her father's country estate in Walnut Hills was named Rookwood, and she gave that name to the pottery. Following an initial location on Eastern Avenue, the second Rookwood Pottery building was built on top of Mount Adams in 1891-92. The firm, known for its high quality artwork and extraordinary glazes, became highly prosperous and employed about 200 workers by the 1920's. Art Pottery, however, suffered greatly during the Great Depression, and Rookwood filed for bankruptcy in 1941. The company moved to Mississippi in 1959 and closed its doors in 1967. However, a Michigan dentist and art collector named Dr. Arthur Townley used his life savings to purchase all remaining Rookwood assets in 1982, including more than 3,000 original molds and hundreds of glaze recipes. Local investors managed in 2004 to have the company move back to Cincinnati, and the company is once again in full production, employing about 70 workers and selling its products through more than 75 dealers across the U.S. and Canada. Touring the factory was a delight, and, though we weren't allowed to take photos in the production area, we could in the lobby and showroom. Here's what some of the beautiful Rookwood creations look like today.
Sources: www.rookwood.com, "Rookwood Pottery Company"; www.wikipedia.org, "Rookwood Pottery"