Anne Chamlee made these photographs of the abandoned Stevens Pottery mill in August 1990. The rural community was named for the industry that was the largest employer in Baldwin County in the years following the Civil War.
Bill Boyd wrote in the 13 August 1992 edition of the Macon Telegraph: Henry Stevens, who grew up near pottery plants in England, worked his way to America aboard a merchant ship, landed a job as a railroad conductor and arrived in Middle Georgia in 1850. An ambitious and enterprising fellow, Stevens bought a sizable tract of timber land in the southwest corner of Baldwin County in 1854, and he discovered “an extensive and valuable deposit of fire-clay” according to an 1895 book “Memories of Georgia”.
After putting a sawmill into operation in that area, he built kilns and began to produce the first sewerage pipe ever produced in the South. The plant also turned out pottery and stoneware. During the Civil War, Stevens’s plant produced “knives, shoepegs and Joe Brown pipes” for the confederacy according to the history book. And, because of that General William T. Sherman burned the plant to the ground in 1864. Stevens rebuilt the plant after the war and sold it to his sons in 1876. By the turn of the century, the Stevens plant employed some 300 people and produced only brick.
The late T. L. Wood recalled in a 1984 interview with the Associated Press that Stevens Pottery acquired a reputation as a rough-and-tumble town where shootings and stabbings were commonplace at night and on weekends. “My mother wouldn’t let me go down there when I was a kid.” he said. But when he grew up, Wood, like many residents of Stevens Pottery and Coopers worked there for at least a while, and he remembered the plant as a “dirty, dusty, crude-looking place, (where) the work was hard- hauling brick in wheelbarrows and things like that.” Wood escaped the hard labor in the plant by operating a general store; and getting the town’s post office located in his store. But others stayed with the hard work and long hours, and as late as the 1950s, a person could work all of the overtime he or she wanted as the plant turned out brick for the booming sugar refineries in Cuba.