Visit Seagrove, the largest community of potters with the longest continual history of pottery making in the United States. The ceramic history of the area began with the abundant and diverse natural clay deposits found in the area. Native American's were first to discover this resource and used it for both functional and ceremonial objects.
The first immigrant potters, mostly English and German, 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. Potters arriving in Seagrove in the late 1700s were quick to realize the value of the local clay first making redware that fired to a reddish orange color. By the first half of the 19th century, many potters had switched to making the higher fired salt glazed stoneware. The building of the old Plank Road, and later the emerging railroad system, gave potters access to even wider markets and helped to establish Seagrove's reputation as a pottery town.
The combination of modern food preparation methods and the Industrial Revolution were devastating to the potters. Because of their remote rural location and the local whiskey distilling industry, they were able to survive, but were eventually crippled by the effects of Prohibition.
Driven by economic necessity, lack of other job opportunities, family pride, and their love of clay, many potters worked on against the odds. Those who persisted in the Seagrove area were joined in the early 20th century by Raleigh couple Jacques and Juliana Busbee, who appreciated the local craftsmanship and used their marketing skills to promote Seagrove to a wider market. The increase in travel by wealthier Americans and the new availability of non-local ceramic materials all contributed to changes in Seagrove pottery styles and collectors embraced this work. By the late 1920s, Seagrove pottery was well-known from the galleries of New York to the garden shops of Florida.
World War II ushered in a new era for Seagrove. In addition to sending a generation of potters off to war, some of the materials for the new glazes were unavailable. By now it was obvious that flexibility and change were essential elements of the Seagrove tradition, and the potters faced these changes with confidence. The immediate solution was high volume production of small pieces for the wholesale gift market. A potter might produce more than 500 pieces each day, all in the same shape and size.
Throughout the 1950s, potters worked together to promote the area. The 1960s and 70s were characterized by social changes across America with the 1976 Bicentennial Celebration bringing 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 citizens, recognizing the strength of continuing to preserve the history and heritage of their craft, began to celebrate annually the weekend before Thanksgiving by organizing the Seagrove Pottery Festival. This festival weekend has now grown to include both the Seagrove Pottery Festival and the Celebration of Seagrove Potters.
Today, Seagrove is known as the handmade pottery capital of the United States where artisans create handcrafted pottery inspired by the same traditions that began here more than 200 years ago. With nearly 100 shops and galleries scattered throughout the area, you will find everything from traditional tableware to folk and collectible art pieces and historical reproductions. For a complete list of shops and galleries, click here - Seagrove Pottery Directory.
Other local area attractions include the Museum of North Carolina Traditional Pottery where visitors can view displays from the surrounding area potteries, as well as pick up visitor guides and area maps. The North Carolina Pottery Center showcases the remarkable history and ongoing tradition of pottery making in North Carolina and provides visitor information for the Seagrove area. The historic Pisgah Covered Bridge, one of North Carolina's two remaining covered bridges, is a great spot for photography, picnics, and nature walks. Tour Seagrove Orchids, a working orchid nursery cultivating and offering nearly 220 different flowering species. Zoo City Motor Sports Park is a one and one-quarter mile outdoor motor cross track with a spectator area and is just minutes from downtown Seagrove.
Seagrove is located just 15 minutes south of Asheboro and approximately 40 miles northwest of Pinehurst, North Carolina. The area is served by two lovely bed and breakfast inns, Duck Smith House and Seagrove Stoneware Inn & Pottery, both located in downtown Seagrove; and is convenient to five Asheboro hotels.
Town of Seagrove
Allen Hale, Mayor
122 E Main St - Seagrove NC 27341
Phone: (336) 873-7307