Part of the American History & Genealogy Project

Maria Longworth Storer ~ 1849 ~ 1932


Maria Longworth Storer

Mrs. Bellamy Storer was born in Cincinnati, in March, 1849. She studied especially music and drawing when she was a child, and is greatly interested in everything that could help to educate and enlighten other people in both these arts. The Cincinnati musical festivals grew out of a conversation with Mrs. Storer's friend, Theodore Thomas, when he was visiting her in Cincinnati, in 1872. She asked him why they might not unite together all their choral societies, and he bring his orchestra and create a great festival organization. He liked the idea very much and under his great leadership they had musical festivals in Cincinnati which have never been surpassed by any in England or Continental Europe.

In 1876 she was much interested in the exhibition of pottery and porcelain at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition, and became anxious to have a place of her own to make experiments in native clays. After working for a while in a pottery where granite ware was made she started, in 1879, a pottery of her own in an old schoolhouse she owned on the banks of the Ohio River. She named the pottery "Rookwood,' after their country place. The first kiln was drawn in February, 1880. For ten years after that she worked there almost daily, selecting shapes and artistic designs. Her decorators were usually young men and women who had been students at the art school, an institution in which her father, Joseph Longworth, was much interested, and to which he gave an endowment of three hundred thousand dollars.

Mrs. Storer was given the patent for the using of a colored glaze over colored decoration and the Rookwood pottery of that time was dipped in a very thick deep yellow glaze, which gave a rich tone to every color underneath it, like the varnish of an old master. This ware obtained a gold medal at the Paris Exposition of 1889.

In 1891 Mrs. Storer's husband was elected to the House of Representatives and, on leaving Cincinnati, she gave the Rookwood pottery to her friend, Mr. William Watts Taylor, who had been business manager for four years and had put the pottery on a paying basis. In her time it was rather an expensive luxury costing her about two thousand dollars a year more than it brought in.

Women of America

Source: The Part Taken by Women in American History, By Mrs. John A. Logan, Published by The Perry-Nalle Publishing Company, Wilmington, Delaware, 1912.


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