In 1903, ceramic artist Mary Chase Perry and her business partner Horace James Caulkins started Pewabic Pottery in the carriage house behind the famed Ransom-Gillis House. Pewabic Pottery soon outgrew the space, and in 1907 moved into their current home in the Jefferson Corridor.
Today, the English cottage-inspired Arts and Crafts building is a historic landmark, and still produces the ceramics for Pewabic Pottery.
The company has had a massive influence in Detroit. Perry (who later became Mary Chase Perry Stratton) revolutionized glazing, and her experiments have had a major impact in the world of ceramics. You can see the tiling in houses throughout the region, and in landmark buildings like the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Fisher Building, the Guardian Building, and Comerica Park.
The Pewabic Pottery building is divided into a few specific parts. The front has retail spaces—one for general items like tiles and ornaments, another gallery for studio artists, and a final one that’s a design studio for consultation on home projects.
In the back of the building is where the magic happens, as they say. Artisans mix clay, fire kilns, press tile, and create incredible pieces every day.
Upstairs, you’ll find two different spaces. One museum area has artifacts throughout Pewabic’s history, including journals from Stratton, medallions that were hidden behind walls, vases made with uranium to get a certain orange color (they're in a special case), and the kiln that was a game changer.
On the other side is a studio space where anyone can take classes and learn how to create their own pottery.
The building is open for tours, classes, and shopping. It's also open for a variety of events and special occasions. Browse the gallery below to get a closer look at the historic space.