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May 3, 2012

Society to hear history of Shenango China

NEW CASTLE — Shenango China employed more than 3,300 men and women in its heyday after World War II.

Area residents are invited to learn about and share stories and memories of this local industrial giant at the May 16 meeting of the Lawrence County Historical Society. The session will begin at 7 p.m. in the Clavelli Local History Museum on North Jefferson Street.

The society has the largest collection of Shenango China in the world. More than 500 of its 3,000-plus pieces will be on display that night.

Andrew Henley and Stephanie Fulena of the society will moderate the journey of the Shenango China, once the largest producer of vitrified china in the world.

The company began in a defunct plant filled with antiquated equipment. James M. Smith saw potential and, in 1913, purchased the former New Castle China Co. and changed the name to Shenango Pottery Co.

In 12 years, it expanded from six to 19 kilns. By 1948, the company covered more than 16 acres with 700,000 square feet of floor space and produced more than 145,000 pieces of china each day.

In 1936, Theodore Haviland of Limoges, France, knowing that there might be another war around the corner, sought a safe place to manufacture his china. He selected Shenango China as the best equipped to maintain the high quality standard for which his products were known.

Prior to this, Shenango China focused on dishes for hotels and institutions. In 1940, the company created Castleton, another line of fine china.

At the start of World War II, fine china production was suspended and the company was commissioned to produce china for the Army and Navy as well as non-magnetic parts for landmines. Castleton production resumed in 1945.

 More information about the program or the historical society is available by calling (724) 658-4022 or emailing

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