The Museum of Ceramics, which is operated by the Ohio Historical Society, houses an extensive collection of the wares produced in the city long known as "America's Crockery City" and "The Pottery Capitol of the Nation." Related displays on East Liverpool's social, political and economic history show the impact of the industry on the community and the nation. During the late nineteenth century, ceramic manufacturing was more important in East Liverpool than are today's steel production in Pittsburgh or automobile manufacturing in Detroit.
The Museum is on the National Register of Historic Places. It occupies the former city post office, which was built in 1909. The renovation of this structure as a museum is an excellent example of the adaptive use of old buildings which no longer serve their original purpose.
In 1903, the Federal Government purchased the 10,000-square foot lot at East Fifth Street and Broadway from William Brunt Sr. for $30,000. Plans were prepared by James Knox Taylor of the Treasury Department for a 76'-by-76' one-story building with a basement. On January 20th, 1908 the United States Treasury Department awarded the construction contract to John C. Unkefer of Minerva, Ohio. The cornerstone was laid on July 8, 1908 and construction on this handsome granite and limestone building began in earnest.
The building is entirely constructed of fireproof materials, has forty-two windows in all, and contains many interesting architectural features. These include the ornately decorated domed ceilings, solid oak trim, and a beautiful marble and terrazzo floor. The total cost of the building, excluding furnishings, was $100,000. Construction was completed and the new post office opened to the public on June 15, 1909. The post office remained in the building until 1969, when a new post office building was constructed on the other side of town. In 1970, the state of Ohio purchased the building in anticipation of developing a museum. The building was subsequently designated as The Museum of Ceramics in the spring of 1980. The southeast corner of the main lobby displays a painting of James Bennett's first pottery by Roland Schweinsburg, circa 1938.
The exhibits in the Museum depict the growth and development of East Liverpool and its ceramic industry from 1840 to 1930, the period during which the city's potteries produced over fifty percent of America's entire ceramics output. Through the skillful use of photographs, ceramic and other artifacts and life-size dioramas, the exhibits vividly portray the products and day-to-day life of one of Ohio's most fascinating cities.