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Brown's Pottery

Ruins of Otto Brown's tunnel kiln, 1980, Bethune, SC
Ruins of Otto Brown's tunnel kiln, 1980, Bethune, SC

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A fifth-generation potter, Otto Brown (1899-1980) was a true journeyman potter. The son of Georgia potter James Osborne Brown, Otto turned pots in Alabama, Georgia, and both Carolinas, often with his other brothers Javan, Davis, William, Charles, and Rufus.

Otto worked for a time with Davis and Javan at their Brown Pottery in Arden, North Carolina. Established in 1923, Davis's grandsons, Charles and Robert, still operate the pottery today.

Otto's wife Emmaeus Averett was also a member of an old Georgia pottery family. She accompanied Otto throughout the south. After working in Alabama and North Carolina, Otto turned for the Hewells in Georgia and the Baynhams in North Augusta. Along with their son, Jimmy, Otto and Emmaeus then settled in Bethune, South Carolina.

Otto and Jimmy worked for several years at Bethune Pottery, turning a variety of unglazed ware and glazed rabbit bowls and crocks. In 1962, Otto and Jimmy moved across the nearby Lynches River and opened Brown Pottery. Bethune Pottery continued to produce unglazed pottery, but soon focused soley on selling clay and producing concrete gardenware.

Brown Pottery produced primarily unglazed flower pots, strawberry jars, Rebekah pitchers, and a variety of planters. Unfortunately, by 1981 both Jimmy and Otto had passed away and Brown’s Pottery closed.

Today, nearby Bethune Pottery continues to supply potters throughout the region with local Lynches River clay is a leading supplier of concrete garden ware. In 2003, Jimmy's widow, Frances Brown Thompson, donated his pottery wheel and several pot lifters to McKissick Museum.

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