Colonial National Historical Park | “POOR POTTER” POTTERY FACTORY RUINS

Site of William Rogers' pottery factory

Site of William Rogers’ pottery factory

See the Historical Buildings of Yorktown web page for a map of the historical area.

Poor Potter is the site of an early pottery factory set up by William Rogers in the early 1700s. By law, colonists were supposed to purchase goods imported from England, not make their own, so the factory is an early example of a break from this economic umbilical cord. Though against the law, Roger’s factory was supported by the Governor of Virginia, who always referred to Rogers as the “poor potter from Yorktown” so that he would not be seen as a threat to the imported English pottery business. However, Rogers was anything but poor, as his factory made quality pottery on an industrial scale for the time. The factory operated from around 1711 until 1760, long after his death in 1739.

Rogers and his factory were eventually lost to time, only to be unearthed again in 1966 during an archaeological excavation. Today a modern building covers the factory ruins and houses a display of discarded pottery found at the site. Located a block off of Main Street near the Nelson House, Poor Potter is open to visitors during the summer as staffing allows. A daily schedule is posted at the Yorktown Battlefield Visitor Center. It was not open during my April visit, so I cannot report more about what there is to see and do inside. You can look in the window when the building is closed.

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Last updated on April 3, 2020
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