The Town of Seagrove is considered, “The Handmade Pottery Capital of the United States,” and people visit from as far away as China and Australia, not to mention each of the 50 states. Collecting pottery is nothing new, but in the last dozen years or so, it has turned into a must-do if you’re into supporting the arts, and creating fun bucket list adventures! There are now more than 100 individual potters to visit and collect from in the Seagrove area. Groups of people get in their cars, or even hire limos, to go from one pottery shop to the next to see what’s new and exciting in the pottery world, as well as seeing potters make their famous handmade traditional pottery that has been created here for generations! When you collect Seagrove pottery, you’re also supporting this large family of artists who make a living in this craft.
Seagrove is located just 15 minutes south of Asheboro, and approximately 40 miles northwest of Pinehurst. The beautiful drive to get from shop to shop is just part of the journey. The farmlands in the area are gorgeous, and it’s easy to slip back in time, and imagine what rural central North Carolina looked like not that many years ago.
The first immigrant potters were mostly English and German, and they arrived in the late 18th century from Pennsylvania and Virginia. They probably settled first in the areas closest to the Great Wagon Road, which ran from Pennsylvania to Georgia, later migrating to Seagrove. The building of the Old Plank Road, and later the emerging railroad system, gave potters access to broader markets and helped establish Seagrove’s reputation as a pottery town. In the early 20th century a Raleigh couple, Jacques and Julianna Busbee, appreciated the local craftsmanship and used their marketing skills to promote Seagrove pottery outside the state, and soon collectors began to embrace the craft. By the late 1920s, Seagrove pottery was well-known from the galleries of New York to the garden shops of Florida. Throughout the 1950s, potters worked together to promote the area. As the 1960s and 70s were characterized by social changes across America, the 1976 Bicentennial Celebration ushered in a renewed interest in handcrafts. The development of ceramic arts programs by nearby community colleges led to the training of many area residents, and Seagrove potters continued to train their children or other interested apprentices. Studio artists began to settle in the area bringing visible changes throughout the remainder of the 20th century. In 1982, local potters and citizens, recognizing the strength of continuing to preserve the history and heritage of their craft, began organizing the Seagrove Pottery Festival to be held annually the weekend before Thanksgiving. This festival weekend has now grown to include both the Seagrove Pottery Festival and the Celebration of Seagrove Potters. Today, Seagrove has a vast range of shops and galleries scattered throughout the area where visitors can find everything from traditional tableware to folk and collectible art pieces and even historical reproductions.
Just off Seagrove’s main street, the North Carolina Pottery, the only statewide facility in the nation devoted solely to pottery, showcases permanent and rotating exhibits of pottery, artifacts, and photographs tracing North Carolina’s pottery history from Native Americans to the present. The building features natural wood and large windows and has won several awards for architect Frank Harmon. The center's beautiful wooded lot also includes two additional buildings: the remodeled Voncannon House provides living space for the center’s artist(s)-in-residence, periodic interns, and occasional presenters and other guests; and a 1,500-square foot education building with wheels, electric kilns, and other clay working equipment. On the hillside, just below the education building, are two working, wood-fired kilns: a traditional groundhog and a double catenary arch kiln.
Seagrove is served by three major airports, each within a little more than an hour’s drive - the closest of which is Piedmont Triad International in Greensboro; five Asheboro area hotels including Choice, IHG, Hilton, and Marriott rewards properties; and two bed and breakfast inns, Duck Smith House & Seagrove Stoneware Inn.
Pictured: Blaine Avery, Avery Pottery & Tileworks; directional signage - Seagrove style; Sid Luck, Luck's Ware; NC Pottery Center; Hatfield Pottery
Town of Seagrove | 122 E Main St - Seagrove | 336-873-7307 | David Fernandez, Mayor