Trenton Terra-Cotta Works


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In operation



bricks, terra cotta (Webb & Fitzgerald 1865); drainpipes, chimney tops and chimney flues (Everts & Stewart 1875)


“Edward Davis in 1845 established a manufactory of fire-brick on a small scale on Third Street below the State Prison É About 1855, Mr. Lynch erected terra-cotta works adjoining the fire-brick manufactory. These were purchased by Mr. Davis, and on the first of January, 1867, by O.O. Bowman & Co. É In August, 1869, the terra-cotta establishment was burned, but was at once rebuilt on a larger scale. In July, 1870, it was again destroyed by fire, and was again rebuilt. É Jan. 1, 1877, O.O. Bowman & Co. sold the entire establsihment to the Trenton Terra-Cotta Company, which was then formed. É In 1880, the old fire-brick works that were established by Mr. Davis were sold to the Trenton China Company. The Terra-Cotta Company enlarged the terra-cotta department by the addition of buildings, machinery, and kilns. The buildings are of brick, and include fifty thousand square feet of floor. É In 1878-79 the manufacture of pottery saggers was added to the former varied productions of the works. These saggers are not manufactured elsewhere by machinery. É This company manufactures all varieities of fire-brick, salt-glazed, drain- and sewer-pipe, chimney tops and flues, and garden ornaments. Seventy-five men are employed here, and twenty-five thousand dollars are annually paid for labor. Two thousand five hundred tons of coal and six thousand tons of clay are annually consumed, and one million fire-brick, thirty thousand saggers, and a large variety of terra-cotta ware are annually produced. É The officers of the company are Joseph McPherson, president; O.O. Bowman, treasurer and manager; and G.W. McPherson, secretary” (Woodward and Hageman 1883:696).

Detailed description of this site and its production in 1887 are provided in Quarter-Century’s Progress 1887.

In 1877, the pottery was known as Trenton Terracotta Co. In 1895 it was purchased by Trenton Fireclay & Porcelain Co. and later sold to J.L. Mott Co. (Harney 1929).

Selected References

R.G. Dun & Company Collection, Mercer County. 1862-1875. 1 [44]:132 and 155.

Webb & Fitzgerald. 1867-1868. “The Trenton Directory, Containing a List of the Inhabitants, Together with a Business Directory and Other Information Valuable to the Citizen and Stranger.” Directory. Webb & Fitzgerald, New York, New York.

J.H. Lant & Co. 1868-1869. “The Trenton City Directory, for 1868 1869, Containing the Names of the Inhabitants, Together with a Business and Street Directory of the City, Business Directory of Mercer Co., and an Appendix of Valuable Information.” pp. 187 188. Vannote & Yard, Trenton, New Jersey.

Everts & Stewart. 1875. “Various Enterprises.” Combination Atlas, Map of Mercer County. P. XII. Everts & Stewart, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Federal Census of New Jersey. 1880. Industrial Schedules. On file, New Jersey State Archives, Trenton, New Jersey.

Woodward, E.M. and John F. Hageman. 1883. “History of Burlington and Mercer Counties.” Everts and Peck, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Quarter-Century’s Progress of New Jersey’s Leading Manufacturing Centres. Dover. 1887. International Publishing Company, New York.

Fitzgerald, Thomas F. 1892-1893. “Fitzgerald’s Trenton and Mercer County Directory, Together with a Directory of Bordentown, Burlington, Mount Holly and Lambertville, NJ and Morrisville, PA, Included a Fund of Information Concerning Public and Private Institutions, National, State, County, City and Borough Governments, Gathered from Reliable and Official Sources.” Thomas F. Fitzgerald, Trenton, New Jersey.

Harney, W.J. 1929. “Trenton’s First Potteries.” Sunday Times Advertiser, July 7, 14, 21 and 28, 1929.

“History of the Bowmans: O.O. Bowman and His Sons.” 1940. Bulletin of the American Ceramic Society 19:175.

Abramson, D.V and T. Karschner. 1978. “An Inventory of Historic Engineering and Industrial Sites, Trenton, New Jersey.” On file, New Jersey Historic Preservation Office (NJDEP), Trenton, New Jersey.

Robinson, Dorothy and Bill Feeny. 1980. “The Official Price Guide to American Pottery & Porcelain.” House of Collectibles, Orlando, Florida.

Nottle, Diane. 1997. “Beauty, Utility and Paychecks, All Built on a Base of Clay.” New York Times, November 9, 1997.

Other Names

O.O. Bowman & Company; O.O. Bowman's Trenton Terracotta Works; Trenton Terra-Cotta Company

Block and Lot:

Historic Street Address:
Third Street and Landing Street; Third Street on Second Street; Davies Street corner of Lalor Street

City of Trenton