East Liverpool, located along the Ohio River in Eastern Ohio about 40 minutes west of Pittsburgh, is frequently dubbed the "Pottery Capital of the World" and "America's Crockery Capital." The city was once home to over 300 pottery companies, including American Limoges, Hall China Company, Fawcett Pottery, and Standard Pottery.
That East Liverpool became a major pottery producer was due to a combination of geography and the skills of the city's 18th century European settlers. Chief among these early residents was Englishman, James Bennett, who established the pottery industry in the area.
The clay soil along the banks of the Ohio was perfect for making ceramics and soon the area was home to more than 300 pottery companies. During the industry's peak production period, between 1840 and 1930, East Liverpool pottery companies made over 50 percent of American ceramics.
The Hall China Company, located at One Anna Avenue in East Liverpool, has been making ceramic ware since 1903. The company is best known for its whimsical shapes, such as the nautical teapot and the donut jug. The company has a large factory outlet store and welcomes visitors from 9 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday.
The Homer Laughlin China Company was started in 1871 by two brothers: Homer and Shakespeare Laughlin. The company, originally located in East Liverpool, moved across the Ohio River to Newell, West Virginia in 1907. The company is best known for its brightly-colored, multi-rimmed Fiesta Ware. The 37-acre facility includes a spacious factory outlet store.
Museum of Ceramics
The Museum of Ceramics, opened in 1980, is located in the heart of downtown East Liverpool at 400 East Fifth Street. The museum, housed in a 1909 former post office building, traces the history of pottery in East Liverpool, primarily during the peak period between 1840 and 1930. Exhibits include pottery, photographs, and other artifacts.
The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Admission is $6 for adults and $3 students. Additional donations are greatly appreciated as the museum lost 93% of its funding in early 2008.
Visiting East Liverpool Ohio
Today, East Liverpool and the surrounding Columbiana County countryside is a popular destination for antique lovers and pottery aficionados. East Liverpool is about a 2 1/2 hour drive from Cleveland.
Accommodations in the East Liverpool area include the Amerihost Inn, the Comfort Inn, the Holiday Inn Express in Newell, WV and the Mountaineer Racetrack and Mountaineer Gaming Resort in Chester, WV.