Skip to main navigation Skip to main content

Lewis Pottery

Site ID: 15Jf659

Kentucky Archaeological Survey
Unless specified, we cannot provide site location information.


​​​​Archaeologists found the remains of Louisville's first commercial pottery beneath a downtown parking lot.  The pottery, established by Jacob Lewis in 1815, initially produced stoneware jars, crocks, and jugs that were in great demand by local households.  

By the late 1820s, Lewis was one of the first potters in America to attempt to make Queensware ceramics.  This light white earthenware with a brilliant glaze was initially developed from creamware by Josiah Wedgwood. He named it in honor of his patroness, Queen Charlotte.  To produce this type of pottery, Lewis convinced several English potters with experience in making Queensware to come to Louisville and work at his pottery.  

By 1839, the business had failed and Lewis had left the pottery.  After his departure, the other potters no longer made Queensware, but they continued to make stoneware at the Lewis Pottery well into the early 1850s. ​

Finding a Queensware waster in a trash dump.


​Archaeological remains from the Lewis Pottery consisted of the foundation of a stoneware kiln, molds, kiln furniture (portable firing aids linked to the manufacturing process), and wasters (pottery discarded due to damage that occurred during production - underfiring, overfiring or breakage). Kiln furniture included props (vertical supports), spacers, and stackers that helped stack, separate, and protect the pots in the kiln during firing.​ 

The recovery of kiln furniture showed that Lewis and his potters tried to mimic the English method of making Queensware.  The recovery of wasters indicated that Lewis and his potters also attempted to copy English tea cups, bowls, and decorated plates - with varying degrees of success. The variety of molds suggested that Lewis Pottery also made stoneware vessels - jugs and jars - and smoking pipes. 

Examination of the Queensware wasters recovered from the site showed that the glaze was one of the main Queensware production problems Lewis and his potters experienced.  Because of these glaze problems, archaeologists have been able to​ distinguish the unique look of Lewis Pottery Queensware from English Queensware.

Examples of Lewis Pottery Queensware have been recovered from several mid-nineteenth-century Louisville house sites.  These findings indicated that the Lewis Pottery was one of the first American potteries to successfully make and sell domestic Queensware.

Remains of a stoneware kiln beneath a parking lot.

What's Cool?

One of America's First Queensware​ Producers

​​At the end of the Revolution, American entrepreneurs tried to lessen England’s trade dominance by producing many goods domestically.  Among these goods was Queensware pottery.  Historical records have documented several attempts to make Queensware in America, but few have been verified as successfully producing marketable products.  

The archaeological investigations at the Lewis Pottery determined that not only did experiments to make American Queensware take place in Louisville, but that Lewis Pottery achieved full-scale production of marketable wares.  Although Lewis’ effort was a financial failure, it provided a foundation for other efforts in the Midwest to create a domestic fine dinnerware industry that flourished at the end of the nineteenth century. 

Unglazed wasters of an edge-decorated Queensware plate.

Related Materials

Keep the Search Alive!