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Community Cornerstone: Greenwich House Pottery

facadeThis past summer, Off the Grid posted a piece on Greenwich House, the community settlement house that brought education and social services to the community’s immigrant population at the turn of the 20th century. Today, Greenwich House continues to serve those in need, from its services for seniors and children to its arts programs for the general public. I wanted, however, to dig a little deeper into this community cornerstone, focusing attention on Greenwich House Pottery. The pottery has been part of the larger Greenwich House’s services since 1909, seven years after the founding of the settlement house. Located at 16 Jones Street, the Pottery served historically as a place to teach pottery making skills to new immigrants. Today, the Pottery works to continue the tradition and art of ceramics.

Student work lines the shelves. Photo via Leslie Williamson.
Student work lines the shelves. Photo via Leslie Williamson.

A small caveat: I am not just an admirer of this Greenwich Village community cornerstone. For the past three weeks, I have been enrolled as a student at this 105-year old institution.  It is the perfect location for an amateur potter who also loves old buildings. The building at 16 Jones Street is part of the South Village Extension of Greenwich Village Historic District, which GVSHP successfully secured in 2010. According to the district designation report, the building first housed a training school for neighborhood boys in woodworking and stone carving. GVSHP’s proposal for landmarking includes a section on the building, noting the building’s Colonial Revival style and its notable architects, Delano & Aldrich.  In 1930, the building was renovated to include rear addition to house a foundry and a wood carving studio. Greenwich House Pottery has made its home in the building since 1948.

The Pottery offers classes for adults, children, parent/children classes, and teens.  The Jane Hartsook Gallery (named for a past Pottery director) allows the community the opportunity to learn about the ceramic form through rotating exhibits. The pottery also offers an almost year-long residency program, designed to foster the artistic development of emerging or established artists by providing them with studio space, time, and materials.

Consistent with the Pottery’s early mission, the studio also serves a disadvantaged clientele through a generous scholarship program. Disabled and economically challenged students find a place where they can immerse themselves in creative work amongst a community of friends.

In 1925, the Pottery was located within Greenwich House's main building at 27 Barrow Street. Photo via Greenwich House Pottery.
In 1925, the Pottery was located within Greenwich House’s main building at 27 Barrow Street. Photo via Greenwich House Pottery.

A long list of artists has called the Pottery home over the years, even Jackson Pollock, if only for a summer. Through the faculty, hands-on workshops, and residency program, the Pottery consistently attracts leading names in ceramic artists to the community, more than fulfilling its motto, “Crafting Community.”

You can learn more about the Pottery on their website. Of particular interest is a feature from Ceramics Monthly on the institution at 100. You can also access past posts in the Community Cornerstones series here.

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