rookwood ice cream parlor 1980

Touring Rookwood Pottery with Cincinnati Heritage Programs

By: Chris Dobbs, Copywriter/Editor

One of Union Terminal's most-prominent examples of Rookwood pottery is the Rookwood Ice Cream Parlor, which also served as a USO Lounge during World War II. It's pictured here circa 1980.

Chances are, if you step into an old-enough house in Cincinnati, Ohio, it features Rookwood Pottery. Whether it’s a colorful pot passed down, a kitchen backsplash lined with avian tiles or a fireplace’s hearth, Rookwood Pottery has left its mark on Cincinnati’s – and the world’s – cupboards, homes and monuments.

Rookwood Pottery was founded in 1880 by Maria Longworth Storer. One of the first female-owned manufacturing companies in the United States, Rookwood set several early examples of what would be popular trends. It was one of the first ceramics companies to hire a chemist, Karl Langenbeck, who contributed to several popular glazes for decorative and everyday use. Its designs were also early examples of American Japonism, the study of Japanese art and style. Rookwood artist Kataro Shiayamadani’s work won the company the Grand Prize at the 1900 Paris Exposition, another breakthrough for the American ceramics industry, which was then seen as an artistic backwater.

In 2018, Cincinnati Heritage Programs guests toured Rookwood Pottery’s production facility, which re-opened in Cincinnati, in the 2000s. They also visited St. Ursula’s Convent archives, where Storer lived for a time, and they visited the Cincinnati Wing of the Cincinnati Art Museum, home of the largest institutional collection of Rookwood pieces.

This is just one example of how Cincinnati Heritage Programs can take you deeper into Cincinnati’s story. Check out for a full description of our walking tours, bus tours, our Speaker Bureau offerings and our monthly Brown Bag lectures.

Posted in History objects and fine art, Photograph and Print, Women's history.