Remembering a Hancock native

HANCOCK – Mary Chase Perry Stratton lived in Hancock a short time, but the style of pottery glazing she developed made her ceramic tiles and other objects world famous, and a traveling exhibit about her work will make stops in several Hancock locations until the end of August.

The exhibit is part of the Hancock Sesquicentennial Celebration, and John Haeussler, celebration chairman, said there will be a welcoming reception for the exhibit at 7 p.m. June 6 at the Copper Country Community Arts Center at 126 Quincy St.

Haeussler said Stratton was born in 1867 in Hancock in a house on Quincy Street now occupied by the Celtic Quarter, an organization of Celtic culture.

“It’s one of the few (structures) that survived the 1869 fire,” he said.

Her father was a doctor. After he died when she was not yet a teenager, her family moved to Ann Arbor then to Detroit, where she began her art training and eventually established Pewabic Pottery, owners of the traveling exhibit.

“It’s been traveling for several months,” Haeussler said.

The exhibit is made of eight folding panels about 6 feet high, Haeussler said. They contain text and photographs, but there is no actual pottery with the exhibit.

Haeussler said Stratton named her style of pottery Pewabic after a mine in Hancock because she liked the sound of the name.

“She remembered the name from her childhood,” he said.

Besides the architectural tiles, which became very popular with architects, Haeussler said she also made vases, lamp bases, bowls and plates.

The glaze Stratton developed is iridescent, which Haeussler said many people enjoyed.

“She did so much experimenting,” he said of Stratton’s glaze.

One of the current uses of Pewabic Pottery tiles can be seen on Comerica Park, the home of the Detroit Tigers, Haeussler said.

At the welcoming reception, Haeussler said there will be an introductory comment by Steve Smith, who authored the chapter on Stratton the Hancock Sesquicentennial publication, “Hidden Gems and Towering Tales.” Also expected to speak is Denise Vandeville, a member of the former Pewabic House Group, which was working to preserve the house on Quincy Street where Stratton was born.

The presentation is on the second floor of the CCCAC, Haeussler said. Entry must be made from the Tezcuco Street side of the building. There is no charge for the program.