The perfect art, the perfect gift, the perfect little store: The Annapolis Pottery on State Circle offers vibrant handmade ceramics brimming with color, functionality, and local meaning. The historic shop’s inviting window displays will draw you in to browse the abundant wall-to-wall pottery collection inside.
About Annapolis Pottery
The Annapolis Pottery is pottery’s answer to the farm-to-table experience. Patrick and Melanie Murphy own and operate the family-owned shop in a historic corner building at 40 State Circle, across from the Maryland State House and just off-the-beaten-tourist-track.
In the fifty years since opening, Annapolis Pottery has found its place as an icon in the community. The owners have created a space that is super friendly, folksy, genuine, and true to the art they sell. Their artisans craft beautiful but practical pottery, sturdy pieces that are intended to be used and not left forgotten on a shelf.
In the back of the shop is a full pottery crafting studio, with three kilns for firing, wheels for throwing, and worktables for hand building, slip casting, and glazing. About half of the inventory is created by in-house artisans, and other pieces are sourced from outside artists. There’s also an online store for both ready-made and custom orders.
Early Beginnings in the Historic District
The Annapolis Pottery opened originally in 1969 in a tiny building around the corner on Cornhill Street. Former physician Brian Mitchell and wife Jan opened their shop and pottery studio to visitors, who would drop in to chat and watch the pair at their craft.
When Brian and Jan retired in 1980, former attorney Bill McWilliams purchased the business. Bill and his new wife Genevieve together built on the store’s successes and in 1994 moved the store to its larger present location. Bill and Genevieve retired to live the good life on their boat in Paris, and Patrick and Melanie stepped up to purchase the business in 2008.
The historic circa 1850 building was once a stagecoach stop and boarding house, later a Railway Express office, and then a bar and a cafeteria. For many years, the building was home to the Annapolis YWCA, supporting underserved women in the community. My own mother-in-law, Shirley Powell, was an early 1960s YWCA executive director and board member, leading women’s services from the State Circle building.
Genuine Local Art
Many of the store’s pottery pieces bear Annapolis and Chesapeake imagery and seascape colors, and others are designed with the nearby Naval Academy and local institutions in mind. These works of art truly represent the essence of Annapolis, created to be enjoyed forever.
Melanie is passionate about her work, believing that, “Pottery is very tactile and good for the earth. People have an emotional attachment to their dinnerware and coffee mugs, and the physical and artistic energy that the potter generates in making a piece is transferred through the pottery to the ultimate user.”
The owners love to celebrate holidays and events, and Commissioning Week and the winter holidays are especially busy times for them. During Midnight Madness in December, the store is jampacked with guests enjoying drinks and specially prepared appetizers. Melanie will send you their recipes if you ask.
Annapolis Arts Week is a great time to stop by the shop!