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Dorchester Historical Society
Dorchester Pottery Collection
Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
Dorchester Pottery Collection
1895-1979
This slide show provides a glimpse of portions of Dorchester
Pottery collection at the Dorchester Historical Society
Many generous donors have given pieces of Dorchester Pottery
to the Dorchester Historical Society over the years. The
Dorchester Pottery Museum transferred its collections to the
Society on May 1, 1983. In 2007 Filomena Ricci, whose
Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
Society on May 1, 1983. In 2007 Filomena Ricci, whose
husband Nando had been a stalwart employee for decades at the
Dorchester Pottery Works, gave hundreds of moulds, examples
of fired and unfired pieces, saggars and equipment used at the
works.
The Society welcomes additions to the collection.
Originally from Cambridge, George
Henderson returned to the Boston area
in1895, moved to Dorchester and
founded the Dorchester Pottery Works.
He had worked previously in New
Haven, Connecticut, as manager of the
S.L. Pewtress Pottery under the name of
Henderson and O'Halloran.
Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
Henderson and O'Halloran.
By the following year, he built a house
and a two-story wooden industrial
building on Preston Street (now Victory
Road) on the east side of the railroad.
His advertisement in the 1897 Boston
Directory stated "Manu'r of Dip Baskets,
Butter Pots, Jugs, Jars, and Flower Pots.
Clay Specialties and Large Pots
Promptly Made to Order. 9 and 11
Preston Street, Dorchester, Mass."
Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
The red circle in the center of this detail from the 1899
map shows the location of the Dorchester Pottery Works on
Preston Street (now Victory Road). Today the area to the
right of the Pottery Works is the location of the CVS on
Morrissey Boulevard.
Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
The address of the Dorchester Pottery Works is
now 101-105 Vctory Road. The red circle is the
location of the kiln building. Map detail from
Google Maps 1/23/2017.
Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
The company produced custom-made stoneware, a pottery
fired under high temperatures to produced vitreous wares
that are durable, heat and cold resistant, and not affected
by corrosive chemical agents. Under George’s supervision
the company produced mostly commercial and industrial
stoneware, including acid jars, vats, pitchers, pots, crocks,
chicken waterers, jewelers’s pots, dipping baskets, and
mixing tanks for acids used in jewelry manufacture.
Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
In addition to products for agricultural use,
Henderson specialized in commercial and industrial
ware.
Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
In the early years of the 20th century, the company did
very well with a popular item, the Patented Henderson
Footwarmer, a ceramic hot water bottle or "porcelain pig."
In 1912 Henderson patented his idea for a metal "Tap or
Nipple for Earthenware Containers," a significant
improvement over the previously-used rubber stopper.
Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
Footwarmer with dried-out rubber stopper and with
the patented Henderson closure.
Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
Henderson advertised in the Saturday Evening Post, the
Ladies Home Journal and the Women's Home Companion.
He also advertised the footwarmer in professional hospital
journals as a bedwarmer. By the 1930s the popularity of
the footwarmer had waned, and the company stopped
producing them by the end of the decade.
Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
Henderson built the monumental kiln and kiln building about
1914 (circled in red on the 1918 Bromley map detail). This
brick building is the only surviving building of the Dorchester
Pottery Works. The company formerly occupied a wooden
building to which the new brick building was attached. By
1918 Henderson had another facility on Neva Street.
Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
This photo from 1965 shows the wooden portion of
the Dorchester Pottery Works building and the
Henderson family’s house with the showroom next
door.
Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
This photo of the kiln building is from 1965.
Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
Photo of Dorchester Pottery Kiln published in Boston Globe, April 6, 2003, taken by Boston Globe staff
photographer George Rizer.
The kiln is a beehive type, downdraft kiln in a circular form. The
interior dimensions, 22 feet in diameter and 10 1/2 feet in height,
allowed the firing of two to three freight carloads of pottery to be
fired at one time. The walls of the kiln are seven bricks deep,
decreasing to five bricks at the dome. No mortar was used -
thrust and balance was the key to construction.
Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
Following George Henderson's death in 1928, Charles Henderson
and Ethel Hill Henderson, his son and daughter-in-law assumed
control (photos from 1965). Ethel, who had been trained by her
father-in-law and by one of his early employees, Augie Ekberg,
became superintendent of the company and was responsible for
designing the company’s products. She had been a clothing design
teacher at the Dorchester High School for Girls.
Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
Ethel was aided by a staff whose most important members
were Ethel's brother, Charles Hill (at left), who took charge
of the glazing and decoration, and Nando Ricci (on right),
whose father Ernesto had worked for George during the
company's early years.
After Ethel took over
management, she
added tableware to the
product line, but even
into the 1950s
Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
into the 1950s
comercial and
industrial products
accounted for the major
portion of the
company’s inventory.
Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
In the late 1960s and 1970s, tableware became their only product
line. Tableware from the Dorchester Pottery Works is in great
demand by collectors. Distinguished by its sturdy traditional forms
and its Cobalt blue glazing on white, grey or buff, the tableware is
ornamented with decorative elements that include blueberry,
pinecone, scroll, pussy willow, floral fruit and striped motifs. These
three items were a gift from Judy Jones in 2017.
The products were all made all
made from Raritan clay from New
Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
made from Raritan clay from New
Jersey.
Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
Using wheels and
plaster molds, the
potters could turn
out hundreds of
pieces a day.
Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
Photos courtesy of Special Collections, Healey Library, University of
Massachusetts, Boston.
Photos courtesy of Special Collections,
Healey Library, University of
Massachusetts, Boston.
Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
The glaze was applied by dipping.
Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
The kiln chamber was first filled to capacity.
Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
The kiln door was sealed with a double wall of bricks
laid in mortar.
Smaller items were
placed inside larger
straight-sided crockery
pots with covers called
saggars to protect the
Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
saggars to protect the
smaller pieces from
scorching.
Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
A large steel band was secured around the kiln.
Each of the doors was
mortared over.
Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
A peep-hole was built into the doorway to allow the
potters to see the pyrometric cones placed inside to
show the levels of temperature.
Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
Pyrometric cones or watchmen slump at different
termperatures. The slope on the one at the right is
exactly right for a good firing.
The process of loading, firing, cooling and
Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
The process of loading, firing, cooling and
unloading the kiln took about two weeks,
with the actual firing requiring fifty to
sixty hours of constant attendance.
There are nine firing holes around the
perimeter of the kiln. After, the
temperature reached 2500 degrees
Fahrenheit (about 40 hours), regular
fifteen-minute firings were necessary to
raise the heat to the higher temperatures
needed for the vitrification of the glazes.
Firing a batch of pottery consumed about
fifteen tons of coal and four cords of wood.
When the temperature
reached the final
temperature, the peepholes
were plugged, and the kiln
remained sealed for five days
Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
while it cooled down. The
door was unsealed brick by
brick to avoid a draft that
could cause breakage.
Plaster Moulds
Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
Shaping Tools
Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
Balance, weights and other tools
Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
Plate moulds and armature to hold a shaper. A
potter’s wheel would have stood beneath the arm.
Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
Feeders
Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
Charles died in 1967, and Ethel continued running the
business until her death in the early 1970s. Ethel's sister,
Lillian Yeaton ran the company along with Charlie Hill and
Nando Ricci until 1979, when fire destroyed the wood-frame
portion of the works and the business. In 1980, the kiln and
kiln building were designated a Boston Landmark. In 2001
Bay Cove Human Services acquired the property and rebuilt
the wooden portion of the building for their own use,
preserving the kiln and kiln building.

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Dorchester Pottery Collection

  • 1. Dorchester Historical Society Dorchester Pottery Collection Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org Dorchester Pottery Collection 1895-1979
  • 2. This slide show provides a glimpse of portions of Dorchester Pottery collection at the Dorchester Historical Society Many generous donors have given pieces of Dorchester Pottery to the Dorchester Historical Society over the years. The Dorchester Pottery Museum transferred its collections to the Society on May 1, 1983. In 2007 Filomena Ricci, whose Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org Society on May 1, 1983. In 2007 Filomena Ricci, whose husband Nando had been a stalwart employee for decades at the Dorchester Pottery Works, gave hundreds of moulds, examples of fired and unfired pieces, saggars and equipment used at the works. The Society welcomes additions to the collection.
  • 3. Originally from Cambridge, George Henderson returned to the Boston area in1895, moved to Dorchester and founded the Dorchester Pottery Works. He had worked previously in New Haven, Connecticut, as manager of the S.L. Pewtress Pottery under the name of Henderson and O'Halloran. Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org Henderson and O'Halloran. By the following year, he built a house and a two-story wooden industrial building on Preston Street (now Victory Road) on the east side of the railroad. His advertisement in the 1897 Boston Directory stated "Manu'r of Dip Baskets, Butter Pots, Jugs, Jars, and Flower Pots. Clay Specialties and Large Pots Promptly Made to Order. 9 and 11 Preston Street, Dorchester, Mass."
  • 4. Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org The red circle in the center of this detail from the 1899 map shows the location of the Dorchester Pottery Works on Preston Street (now Victory Road). Today the area to the right of the Pottery Works is the location of the CVS on Morrissey Boulevard.
  • 5. Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org The address of the Dorchester Pottery Works is now 101-105 Vctory Road. The red circle is the location of the kiln building. Map detail from Google Maps 1/23/2017.
  • 6. Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org The company produced custom-made stoneware, a pottery fired under high temperatures to produced vitreous wares that are durable, heat and cold resistant, and not affected by corrosive chemical agents. Under George’s supervision the company produced mostly commercial and industrial stoneware, including acid jars, vats, pitchers, pots, crocks, chicken waterers, jewelers’s pots, dipping baskets, and mixing tanks for acids used in jewelry manufacture.
  • 7. Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org In addition to products for agricultural use, Henderson specialized in commercial and industrial ware.
  • 8. Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
  • 9. Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org In the early years of the 20th century, the company did very well with a popular item, the Patented Henderson Footwarmer, a ceramic hot water bottle or "porcelain pig." In 1912 Henderson patented his idea for a metal "Tap or Nipple for Earthenware Containers," a significant improvement over the previously-used rubber stopper.
  • 10. Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org Footwarmer with dried-out rubber stopper and with the patented Henderson closure.
  • 11. Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org Henderson advertised in the Saturday Evening Post, the Ladies Home Journal and the Women's Home Companion. He also advertised the footwarmer in professional hospital journals as a bedwarmer. By the 1930s the popularity of the footwarmer had waned, and the company stopped producing them by the end of the decade.
  • 12. Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org Henderson built the monumental kiln and kiln building about 1914 (circled in red on the 1918 Bromley map detail). This brick building is the only surviving building of the Dorchester Pottery Works. The company formerly occupied a wooden building to which the new brick building was attached. By 1918 Henderson had another facility on Neva Street.
  • 13. Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org This photo from 1965 shows the wooden portion of the Dorchester Pottery Works building and the Henderson family’s house with the showroom next door.
  • 14. Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org This photo of the kiln building is from 1965.
  • 15. Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org Photo of Dorchester Pottery Kiln published in Boston Globe, April 6, 2003, taken by Boston Globe staff photographer George Rizer. The kiln is a beehive type, downdraft kiln in a circular form. The interior dimensions, 22 feet in diameter and 10 1/2 feet in height, allowed the firing of two to three freight carloads of pottery to be fired at one time. The walls of the kiln are seven bricks deep, decreasing to five bricks at the dome. No mortar was used - thrust and balance was the key to construction.
  • 16. Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org Following George Henderson's death in 1928, Charles Henderson and Ethel Hill Henderson, his son and daughter-in-law assumed control (photos from 1965). Ethel, who had been trained by her father-in-law and by one of his early employees, Augie Ekberg, became superintendent of the company and was responsible for designing the company’s products. She had been a clothing design teacher at the Dorchester High School for Girls.
  • 17. Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org Ethel was aided by a staff whose most important members were Ethel's brother, Charles Hill (at left), who took charge of the glazing and decoration, and Nando Ricci (on right), whose father Ernesto had worked for George during the company's early years.
  • 18. After Ethel took over management, she added tableware to the product line, but even into the 1950s Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org into the 1950s comercial and industrial products accounted for the major portion of the company’s inventory.
  • 19. Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
  • 20. Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org In the late 1960s and 1970s, tableware became their only product line. Tableware from the Dorchester Pottery Works is in great demand by collectors. Distinguished by its sturdy traditional forms and its Cobalt blue glazing on white, grey or buff, the tableware is ornamented with decorative elements that include blueberry, pinecone, scroll, pussy willow, floral fruit and striped motifs. These three items were a gift from Judy Jones in 2017.
  • 21. The products were all made all made from Raritan clay from New Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org made from Raritan clay from New Jersey.
  • 22. Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org Using wheels and plaster molds, the potters could turn out hundreds of pieces a day.
  • 23. Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org Photos courtesy of Special Collections, Healey Library, University of Massachusetts, Boston.
  • 24. Photos courtesy of Special Collections, Healey Library, University of Massachusetts, Boston. Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
  • 25. Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org The glaze was applied by dipping.
  • 26. Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org The kiln chamber was first filled to capacity.
  • 27. Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org The kiln door was sealed with a double wall of bricks laid in mortar.
  • 28. Smaller items were placed inside larger straight-sided crockery pots with covers called saggars to protect the Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org saggars to protect the smaller pieces from scorching.
  • 29. Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org A large steel band was secured around the kiln.
  • 30. Each of the doors was mortared over. Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
  • 31. Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org A peep-hole was built into the doorway to allow the potters to see the pyrometric cones placed inside to show the levels of temperature.
  • 32. Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org Pyrometric cones or watchmen slump at different termperatures. The slope on the one at the right is exactly right for a good firing.
  • 33. The process of loading, firing, cooling and Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org The process of loading, firing, cooling and unloading the kiln took about two weeks, with the actual firing requiring fifty to sixty hours of constant attendance. There are nine firing holes around the perimeter of the kiln. After, the temperature reached 2500 degrees Fahrenheit (about 40 hours), regular fifteen-minute firings were necessary to raise the heat to the higher temperatures needed for the vitrification of the glazes. Firing a batch of pottery consumed about fifteen tons of coal and four cords of wood.
  • 34. When the temperature reached the final temperature, the peepholes were plugged, and the kiln remained sealed for five days Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org while it cooled down. The door was unsealed brick by brick to avoid a draft that could cause breakage.
  • 35. Plaster Moulds Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
  • 36. Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org Shaping Tools
  • 37. Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org Balance, weights and other tools
  • 38. Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org Plate moulds and armature to hold a shaper. A potter’s wheel would have stood beneath the arm.
  • 39. Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
  • 40. Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
  • 41. Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
  • 42. Feeders Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org
  • 43. Dorchester Historical Society www.dorchesterhistoricalsociety.org Charles died in 1967, and Ethel continued running the business until her death in the early 1970s. Ethel's sister, Lillian Yeaton ran the company along with Charlie Hill and Nando Ricci until 1979, when fire destroyed the wood-frame portion of the works and the business. In 1980, the kiln and kiln building were designated a Boston Landmark. In 2001 Bay Cove Human Services acquired the property and rebuilt the wooden portion of the building for their own use, preserving the kiln and kiln building.