A Hometown Favorite
Returns to Its Local Roots
by Rachel Reynolds
Hadley Pottery Company, one
of Louisville’s gems, has been creating handcrafted American pottery since
1940. We’ve all likely seen Hadley’s
blue hand-painted dishes and collectibles, but many of us may not know the
long, storied history of this one-of-a-kind business.
Hadley Pottery had been owned
locally for decades until a group of investors from St. Louis bought the
company in 2009. To everyone’s delight,
current co-owner Jerry Day purchased Hadley in June 2018 and returned the
company to its local roots. Day’s mother,
father and grandfather worked at Hadley, and he himself has been an employee at
the company for 45 years. The company is
where Day’s parents met. Following in his dad’s footsteps, Day’s 38-year-old son
Josh now works there and is co-owner, too.
“Josh even has a daughter
named Hadley,” Day says, recounting how intertwined the Day family is with the
pottery firm’s long tradition.
The company was started by
Mary Alice Hadley, a talented artist who was born in 1911 into a local family
of clay tile makers. Due to the
abundance of ancient clay deposits in the region, Louisville has been a center
of pottery-making for generations. M.A.
Hadley developed an early interest in art and design and became a widely
recognized painter, winning numerous awards and acclaim from New York to Los
By the late 1930s, Mary Alice
Hadley was making dishes for her houseboat on the Ohio River. She worked at Louisville Pottery with Perry Day,
Jerry’s granddad, until she struck out on her own in 1940 to launch Hadley
Pottery, taking Day’s grandfather with her as the first employee of her new
company. Perry Day worked at Hadley
Pottery for decades, then his son, Tom Day, worked at Hadley for 50 years, and now
his grandson, Jerry Day, is co-owner of Hadley Pottery. Jerry Day joined Hadley when he was 17 years
old. He is now 62. Jerry’s son, Josh Day, joined the company in
1998. Josh is the fourth generation of
Days to work at the company. Jerry’s
sister, Judy, and her husband, Mark Snyder, are also longtime employees of
“When I bought the company
last year, Hadley Pottery became local again,” Jerry Day says with pride. “We
have a lot of employees who have been here a long time. We have two ladies in their 70s, and they
work six hours a week on Saturdays.
We’ve had several families employed here and some are in their third
generation at Hadley.”
In 1944, Mary Alice Hadley’s husband,
George, purchased a building in the Butchertown area of Louisville as a
birthday present for his wife. The
building, constructed in 1848, had been home to a wool mill, a candle factory
and a cordage mill. For 75 years now,
the building has served as the production location, factory salesroom and
offices of Hadley Pottery.
“We’ve been local forever,”
Day says. “Butchertown is growing all
around us. We were one of the first and
have been here a long time.”
The company makes its clay
from scratch, forms its own molds and mixes its own colors for the plates,
bowls, mugs, canister sets, flower pots, piggy banks and other novelty items it
makes. Hadley offers a variety of
decorative patterns including country, fleur de lis, blue horse, cowboy, fishing,
lighthouse, Christmas, lobster and crab, and others. It also creates personalized and monogrammed
pieces that are often given as wedding and birthday gifts.
“We have customers come here
in summer from all over the country,” Day says.
Hadley Pottery is currently sold in roughly 300 shops across the nation
and is also for sale on the Internet.