Posted in Barberton History

Kirkham Art Tile

Kirkham Art Tile Works at Barberton, Ohio

Kirkham Art Tile and Pottery

Kirkham Art Tile and Pottery founder Joseph Kirkham was formerly a partner in the Providential Tile Works of Trenton, New Jersey until he left to start his own company in the new community of Barberton, Ohio.  His factory was established on modern day Wooster Rd. W., along the canal.

The Factory

The Kirkham Art Tile & Pottery plant was considered one of the largest of its kind in the world. The plant was designed and constructed under the supervision of Mr. Joseph Kirkham, an Englishman and a pupil of the famed Wedgewood, who is considered the best in his line in the country. The company was incorporated May 8, 1891, by Joseph Kirkham, Ohio C. Barber, Charles Baird, George W. Krauss, M. Frost and others with a capital stock of $300,000. The plant covered 7 acres, and had as many as seven hundred employees, both male and female.

The corporate officers were:

Ohio C. Barber, President
George W. Crouse, Vice President
Charles Baird, Secretary and Treasurer
Joseph Kirkham, Superintendent

Kirkham Art Tile Fire

In March of 1893, production at Kirkham Art Tile came to an abrupt end when a small fire near the engine room quickly spread. Within a few hours much of the factory had been destroyed. Several years later the Imperial Tile Co. of Trenton, NJ expressed plans to rebuild and reopen the works however there efforts were unsuccessful and the property was eventually sold at auction.

An 1891 description of Kirkham operations:

A large amount of ware to be manufactured here is not made anywhere else in this country, and much of it is not made elsewhere. All styles of ceramics will be produced including Pate-sur-Pate, Samian, Pallisy, Roubelle, Limoges, Vergonia, Jasper, etc., some of which are not manufactured elsewhere in America. Sculpture, mantles and sanitary goods will also be specialty. Nothing but find goods, ancient and modern design, will be made, the production of which will enable this vast enterprise to compete with the leading manufacturers of Europe. None but the best artists and designing will be employed, all under the direction of Mr. Joseph B. Evans, art director, an Englishman and the pupil also of Wedgwood and Minton, made famous for their works of art. Huge vaults have been constructed for the preservation of the rarest and costliest productions.