Folk Pottery Sees New Life

Jacques and Juliana Busbee in 1938. Image from the State Archives Jacques and Juliana Busbee in 1938. Image from the State Archives

 

All this month we’re bringing you stories from North Carolina women’s history. Check back here each week day for a new tidbit on the women of our state’s past.

The success of the pottery industry in the area around Seagrove, also known as Jugtown, is largely the result of the work of Jacques and Juliana Busbee. Living in Raleigh, the couple discovered the folk pottery of the Sandhills region and enthusiastically began to collect it. While living in New York the following year, the pair was encouraged by artist friends to pursue their interest in the traditional pottery style. The pottery industry at the time was in decline. Prohibition had effectively eliminated the demand for jugs. Jacques began to revitalize the trade by shipping the wares to a tearoom that Juliana operated in Greenwich Village. The operation was successful and together they established Jugtown Pottery in 1922, hiring young potters from the surrounding area, including 18-year-old Ben Owen. Owen would later become a driving force at Jugtown Pottery.

The Busbee Kitchen at Jugtown Pottery The Busbee Kitchen at Jugtown Pottery

 

The Busbees took it as their mission in life to save the traditional pottery of the Sandhills region. The couple successfully marketed their wares and created a demand for North Carolina folk pottery. After her husband’s death in 1947, Juliana continued to operate Jugtown Pottery with Owen until her death in 1959. Jugtown Pottery was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1999.

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