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Hadley Pottery

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 Angeles.

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 Hadley.

“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.

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