Louisville Stoneware

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Exterior of the Visitor Center

Louisville Stoneware, previously known as Louisville Pottery, is located in the Highlands section of Louisville, Kentucky. Founded in 1815, making it one of the oldest stoneware companies in the United States, it creates fanciful stoneware that is nationally renowned.[1][2][3] It specializes in decorating its pottery with Kentucky Derby and Christmas themes, but it has other themes as well: Noah's Ark, Primrose, and Pear being examples. They can also create personalized items. Besides pottery, they have made bird baths and bird feeders.[3]


The JB Taylor Company was founded in 1815 in Louisville, Kentucky. But it was not owned by John B. Taylor until 1938. In 1970 the company was sold and became known as Louisville Stoneware. The company is still produces the stoneware. Some of the old patterns are still in production as well as many new designs.

Some of the oldest patterns include Harvest and Vintage. In the earlier days, the artists were likely to experiment with different designs and you can occasionally find a unique treasure in antique/consignment shops. They also do many pieces on commission for company/event promotions, the best known being their pieces done to commemorate the running of the Kentucky Derby. They also did a pattern for Cracker Barrel Restaurants, Kentucky Fried Chicken and many more.

The fun aspect of this stoneware is the different patterns and individual hand painted designs, from Bachelor Button, Country Flowers, hummingbirds, 12 Days of Christmas, Noah's Ark, etc. As well as some decorative pieces including castles, birdhouses, pet dishes, etc.

One of the better known potters to work for John B. Taylor was MA Hadley (Mary Alice Hadley), who started a company of her own. MA Hadley is very collectible and highly sought after for their varied and creative hand painted patterns.[citation needed]

Hadley Pottery had its inception early in 1940. At that time, M.A.Hadley applied her artistic talents to the making of a custom set of dishes for a cruiser that the Hadleys had on the Ohio River. The Hadley Pottery building was purchased by the Hadley's in October 1944 as a birthday present for Mrs. Hadley. Mrs. Hadley painted all of the murals on the walls of the building.

Since 1997, company sales have averaged $3 million a year. In those ten years, the business switched from a mostly wholesale business to mostly retail. Over 90% of their business has been centered around Louisville and Kentucky, but internet and national advertising is expected to expand distribution.[4]

In March 2007, Louisville Stoneware laid off most of its employees (38 out of 49), after which they retooled their visitor's center and temporarily opened a store at Oxmoor Center in St. Matthews, Kentucky. In July, it was sold to Two Stone Inc., as the previous owner, Christina Lee Brown, wished to retire.[5] The chief concept officer, Lisa Mullins, decided to increase the number of places that sold their stoneware from just one, Taste of Kentucky, to three additional locations in Louisville, and one apiece in Bardstown, Kentucky, Owensboro, Kentucky, and Cincinnati, Ohio.[6] There has been plans to open stores in Chicago, Illinois, Cincinnati, Ohio, and Indianapolis, Indiana.[4]

Factory tours are available weekdays by appointment, with group discounts available.[7] It is anticipated that, eventually, tours could make the factory as big a center for Louisville tourism as the Louisville Slugger Museum.[4]


Clay used by the company comes from western Indiana, and may be up to 250 million years old.[8] Dishes made at the factory have been proven to be safe for use in ovens, microwave ovens, and dishwashers, and can retain heat for keeping food warm.[9]

Cultural references[edit]

Items from Louisville Stoneware are in the Smithsonian Institution and White House.[3] In addition, Queen Elizabeth II was presented a music box made by Louisville Stoneware, given by the wife of Kentucky's governor Ernie Fletcher, that played My Old Kentucky Home when the Queen visited Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby in 2007.[10]

The New York Times singled out Louisville Stoneware as a business especially affected by the United Parcel Service strike of 1997.[11]

During the U.S. presidential campaign of 2004, John Kerry gave a campaign speech on small-business healthcare insurance in May 2004 at Louisville Stoneware.[2]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Louisville Stoneware Company Profile | Company Information
  2. ^ a b VandeHe, Jim. "Kerry Describes Health Proposal" The Washington Post May 12, 2004, p. A08
  3. ^ a b c Nold, Chip. Insiders' Guide to Louisville, Kentucky & Southern Indiana, 2nd pp. 106–107
  4. ^ a b c Slawsky, Richard. "Louisville Stoneware's new strategies shift from wholesale to retail focus" Business First November 24, 2006
  5. ^ "Louisville Stoneware sold to local investment group" Business First of Louisville July 17, 2007
  6. ^ "Louisville Stoneware partners with retailers" Business First of Louisville November 7, 2007
  7. ^ Factory Tours | Locations | Louisville Stoneware
  8. ^ Artistry in the Making | Our Story | Louisville Stoneware
  9. ^ Kentucky Haus • Louisville Stoneware
  10. ^ Gumbrecht, Jamie. "Queen keeps a low profile at Churchill Downs". Lexington Herald-Leader May 5, 2007
  11. ^ Uchitelle, Louis. "First, Big Spurt in Business And Then a Probable Drop" The New York Times August 20, 1997

External links[edit]