After 145 years in business, Haeger Potteries closing in East Dundee

Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Haeger Potteries closing up shop
Haeger Potteries in East Dundee is closing after 145 years in the artistic pottery business.

EAST DUNDEE, Ill. (WLS) -- One hundred and forty-five years is a long time for a family business to survive, and that's the story of Haeger Potteries in East Dundee. But now, it's also a story with an unhappy ending.

Haeger Potteries is one of the last large manufacturers of clay-fired artistic pottery left in the United States. Clay turned to art is what they did, but now, the fire in the kiln will be turned off for the last time on Thursday.

"Competition. Competition from China. We just couldn't compete with the prices from overseas. We tried everything but we just couldn't stay open," said Lexy Haeger Estes, owner of Haeger Potteries.

Haeger Estes's great grandfather David started it all four generations ago. It has been family-run ever since.

The business opened not long after the end of the Civil War, that's how old it is. It was 1871 when Haeger became a big part of Chicago history.

"The Chicago Fire happened. He had purchased this and they were doing brick and tile and all of a sudden he was called to send millions and millions of bricks to the city to help rebuild with non-flammable materials," Haeger Estes said.

After the bricks came the artistic pottery and business boomed selling product all over the world. In the 70s and 80s up to 200 full-time employees worked here. Now there is just a skeleton crew for the requiem.

"These are the final products we have made and once we're done shipping all this that will be the end," Haeger-Estes said. "It's very, very hard."

The last of this clay-fired artistry will be sold from the showroom at Haeger. They will probably last only a few weeks.