The Times West Virginian

May 13, 2013

Locals work to keep pottery industry alive

By Emily Gallagher
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — North Central West Virginia has a rich history in the pottery industry, and residents today are keeping that industry alive.

Mannington played a big role in the pottery industry in the early 1900s in providing commodes and tanks to people around the world.

In 1904, George W. Bowers moved from Wheeling to Mannington and opened a sanitary pottery called the Homewood Pottery Co. This pottery had four kilns at the time.

Being experienced in management and pottery, Bowers turned the four-kiln pottery into a 20-kiln pottery nine years later. In 1913, the pottery changed its name to Bowers Pottery.

Bowers had expanded the pottery to employ more than 300 workers and have an annual capacity of making 330,000 pieces, making it one of the world’s largest sanitary potteries in not only the U.S. but also in the world.

Olive Marie Utt had two brothers who worked in the pottery. She said the reason the pottery was so successful was because of how Bowers managed it and that at the time bathroom fixtures were popular.


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