New Salem Pottery

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History and Location

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New Salem Pottery is situated on a historical tract of land in north central Randolph County, North Carolina. The tract was settled in 1766 by the Thomas Dennis Family, who along with other Quakers had relocated from Chester County, Pennsylvania. The property sat astride the Trading Road (formerly the Indian Trading Path) which extended from Petersburg Virginia into South Carolina. The location and the existence of large beds of earthenware clay made it ideally suited for a pottery. William Dennis (b.1769) and his son Thomas (b.1791) were the earliest documented potters working at the property. William, a Quaker opposed to slavery, apprenticed George Newby, a twelve year old African American youth, to learn the pottery trade in 1813. The Dennis Pottery not only made simple, utilitarian redware, but a variety of decorative slipware and thinly turned tableware. William moved to Indiana in 1832, selling the land where the house and pottery stood to Peter Dicks, a Quaker businessman and potter who lived in the nearby community of New Salem. James Madison Hays, a potter purchased the property for utilization of the clay beds in 1874. The Pugh family purchased the land in 1939 and the present pottery was established in 1972 by Hal and Eleanor.

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The William Dennis pottery and house site was located by Hal & Eleanor Pugh in 1974. Hal researched and wrote an article entitled, "The Quaker Ceramic Tradition in the NC Piedmont: Documentation and Preliminary Survey of the Dennis Family Pottery" published in The Southern Friend: Journal of the Friends Historical Society in 1988. Since that time a number of dedicated professional archaeologists, students, and volunteers have devoted countless hours in study and ongoing excavations at the site. The William Dennis pottery kiln and house site is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Hal and Eleanor have written three essays regarding the Dennis, Dicks, Hocketts/Hoggatts, Mendenhalls, and other Quaker families who contributed to the earthenware tradition in North Carolina, for Ceramics in America 2010. This volume, along with Ceramics in America 2009 will served as catalogs for an exciting exhibition, "Art in Clay: Masterworks of North Carolina Earthenware".  If you missed the exhibition, scroll down to the bottom of this page and the "Art in Clay" link will provide a virtual tour.

Click on the photo below for a link to the presentation by Hal, "The Quaker Potters of North Carolina" Art in Clay Symposium, April 15-16 2011 at Old Salem Museums & Gardens, Winston-Salem, North Carolina

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Click on Photo for Link


View Map

New Salem Pottery is located 18 miles south of Greensboro and 8 miles north of Asheboro, North Carolina. From Greensboro, travel on 220 Bypass South, cross the Martha McGee Bell Bridge over Randleman lake, and exit the next right beyond the bridge (Randleman Exit). At the bottom of the exit ramp turn left onto Academy Street, continue 1.6 miles to the second stoplight and turn left onto Main Street (US 220 Business). Continue 1.4 miles and turn right onto New Salem Road. Continue on New Salem Road for 1.1 miles, watch for New Salem Pottery sign on left at 789 New Salem Road.
Traveling north from Asheboro on US 220 Bypass, exit at the US 311/Randleman Exit. Turn right at the end of the exit ramp onto US 311, go .5 miles to a stoplight. Turn left onto US 220 Business (Main Street), go 3 miles and turn right onto New Salem Road. Continue on New Salem Road for 1.1 miles, watch for New Salem Pottery sign on left at 789 New Salem Road.