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East Texas: The History and Success of Marshall Pottery
The East Texas area in the United States is full of wonderful history and southern charm. The weather and scenery are beautiful several months out of the year, and it provides that cliche atmosphere you would expect from a southern state.
The population consists of about 24,000 people which helps constitute the small town feel while still having bigger city opportunities. The people of Texas love and live by the "Don't Mess with Texas" motto.
The town is perfectly located along the historic Highway 59 and Highway 80, running north and south to Houston, and Interstate 20, going east and west to Dallas. It comes within 25 miles of meeting the Louisiana state border.
Some of the must see sites and industries in the area include:
- Oil and Gas Exploration, plays a major role in the economic development
- "Wonderland of Lights", one of the largest festival of lights in the country during Christmas time
- East Texas Baptist University (ETBU)
- Wiley College, hosts many foreign students from all over the world
- Ginocchio Hotel, where Maurice Barrymore (of the Barrymore acting family) was shot in 1878 by an intoxicated train engineer
- Texas & Pacific Railroad Depot
- Marshall Pottery
As you can see from the map below, Marshall is the intersecting point for all the surrounding roads and towns.
History and Success
Without a doubt, the biggest contributor to this small town's popularity is the Marshall Pottery store. It was established in the 1905 by Sam Ellis and his family, who pressed on through a fire in 1912 and the invention of glassware in 1920 which both nearly ended the business.
it was the discovery of a lower fire clay in the 1940's that really put this store on the map. The first two main lines of pottery, including clay flower pots are still in production today.
In 1974 a retail store was added to the Marshall Pottery family. This massive 100,000 square foot facility makes it one of the main tourist destinations in East Texas, with visitors and customers alike still buying clay pots and custom products on a regular basis.
Here is a quote from the website:
"Marshall Pottery specializes in hand turned pottery straight from the potter’s wheel. Skilled artisans have turned the clay of East Texas for over one hundred years making beautiful, functional stoneware pottery. Each piece is truly a piece of art."
It will take you several hours to really see everything from the contemporary, to traditional, to custom pottery that's available for any home or garden decor.
The store has been recognized by the Texas Historical Commission, and is the largest manufacturer of red clay pots in the entire United States.
Children and teachers are frequently seen inside Marshall Pottery, since they offer field trips to students within the county school district. You will learn about the complete history of the store and the many changes and improvements it's had over time.
The few times I've had a field trip there, we all went into the viewing area, where many employees (called artists) would craft individual pieces by hand!
Watching someone create such a beautiful pot or bowl from a lump of wet clay, placed on a potter's wheel, then baked on high heat for hours, to come out as a completed product. It is the most amazing experience to see, especially as a young child.
This store is an absolute gem, and if you are ever in East Texas, it's a must visit place.