The Schaffner-Krause Pottery is a rich archaeological site in Old Salem that is also the site of the first building constructed in Salem 250 years ago.
On Monday, January 6, 1766, a dozen brethren came from the nearby Moravian towns of Bethabara and Bethania to the site chosen for the new town of Salem. That afternoon they felled trees to build a one-story log house for shelter during construction of the new town. Known as the “Builders’ House,” this first permanent structure in Salem served the builders, and following the formal occupation of Salem in 1772, it was used by a farmer and his family as one of Salem’s farms. In the 19th century it was designated Lot 81 and became part of Salem’s pottery enterprise.
The Moravian potter Heinrich Schaffner arrived in Salem from Neuwied, Germany on November 15, 1833 and was soon recognized for his industrious ways. Although John Holland was already producing pottery in Salem, by 1834 Schaffner was given permission to establish a second pottery, which he located on Lot 81, using the Builders House as the shop and added a kiln, dry house, pug mill, and warehouse to the operation.
This pottery, first under Schaffner and then Daniel Krause, was in production until the turn of the 20th century. Krause is seen in the 1882 photo of the Pottery above, at the far left in a derby hat and standing by the pottery shop door. The Builders House stood until 1907, and other aspects of the operation, including the kiln and additional outbuildings, were also present until then.
Old Salem Archaeology, under the direction of archaeologist Dr. Michael O. Hartley, began excavations on the Schaffner-Krause Pottery in 2000 and conducted active excavation through 2008, recovering thousands of artifacts. This research had been stimulated by the recovery of 19th century-Salem pottery at excavations on Lot 33 in Old Salem and the questions that resulted from that archaeology.
Excavations at the pottery site also revealed the ruins of the shop, kiln, dry-house, warehouse, and a well. The results of these excavations are the subject of ongoing analysis and have produced a great deal of information about the production of Moravian lead-glazed earthenware during the last three-quarters of the 19th century.
For additional information, please view the lecture “The Moravian Archaeological Context“ by Dr. Michael O. Hartley, presented at the Art in Clay Symposium April 15-16, 2012 at Old Salem Museums & Gardens. Also see “Salem Pottery after 1834: Heinrich Schaffner and Daniel Krause,” by Michael O. Hartley in Ceramics in America, 2009.