Pewabic Continues to Make History and Make the Future
Maxine Frankel cuts the ribbon to open the Maxine and Stuart Frankel Pewabic Tile Studio as (L-R) Todd Sachse, founder and CEO of Sachse Construction, Karla Williamson for the City of Detroit, Alison Watson of the Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs, and Pewabic Executive Director Steve McBride assist.
Time-lapse video of the building's construction.
The morning of October 25 was crisp, sunny and historic for Pewabic Pottery. It was the day Pewabic introduced its new Maxine and Stuart Frankel Pewabic Tile Studio to Pewabic Society Trustees and other guests instrumental in making the project a reality. It was the dawning of a new age at Detroit's iconic pottery, and we couldn't be more excited to bridge our proud history with an exciting future, continuing to tile Detroit and beyond. Below is Pewabic Executive Director Steve McBride's speech at the ribbon cutting:
I want to thank everybody for coming on this beautiful fall day to celebrate a real milestone in the history of Pewabic. This is the first physical expansion of the Pottery since 1912 and it represents a tremendous opportunity for moving forward.
Anyone who knows ceramics knows that it’s space intensive. We’ve been working in this building since 1907 – 111 years. What we’ve noticed over the last couple of decades is that it’s really hard to produce work in a limited amount of space. We’ve been doing a lot of planning and every master plan over the last 20 years has identified production capacity/production space as the number one priority. We’ve made progress, but most of it was geared toward acquiring property and removing the blighted buildings – pulling back the curtain to show that Pewabic was here. To reveal this amazing cultural gem that has been here all along.
Today we’re talking about the future.
This is the first step towards actually looking ahead, building onto the building, and creating the opportunities we need in order to play an even bigger role in the future of the city as we move forward with Pewabic.
The last expansion came in 1912 and it was really after a big job/commission came to do tile for the floor and bar of a side-wheeler steamboat called The City of Detroit III. To me, it’s really cool that it was the City of Detroit because we are all about the City of Detroit – the city is part of our DNA.
One of the things that’s spurred this current growth is the work we’ve been doing recently. Last year we did tile for all the QLINE stations, we did tile for Little Caesars Arena, we did a tile mural for the Plymouth District Library, another at Ascension St. John Hospital Birthing Center, and a big job for Sparrow's new Herbert-Herman Cancer Center in Lansing and it was really straining our capacity, so it was time to invest into the future.
Our founder Mary Chase Perry Stratton was quoted as saying “We did what was to be done as it came along.” And now this is what needs to be done to move us forward. This expansion is going to allow us to play an even greater role in the future of the city. It’s going to increase our capacity; it will increase our efficiency – we will be able to cut down lead times in architectural tile; it’s going to allow us to take on new jobs and actually enrich the city to a greater degree.
This is just the start. We’ve got plans for adding on. We’re doing master planning right now to talk about what the next phase is: It’s going to include a new education studio, we want to add a cafe, gardens, sculpture gardens. But it’s really critical – really significant – that we’re starting with the tile studio, because the crafting of tile is the heart and soul of Pewabic. It’s where we’ve really become part of the fabric of this city. It’s where we’ve made the biggest architectural contributions all along.
It’s been an amazing team effort. They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well, it takes a city to sustain a pottery.
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Pewabic’s relationship with Michigan State University dates back to the 1920s, when Pewabic tile began to appear throughout the Lansing campus. Some 40 years later, the connection became even more meaningful when MSU played a vital role in Pewabic’s very existence.