Surviving fire, flooding and neglect, the historic Van Briggle Pottery Building now sports a new look. Built in 1907-1908, the "Dutch farm house" nestled into the corner of Uintah Street and Glen Avenue, has belonged to Colorado College since 1968. Its whimsical tile accents and monumental smokestacks are Colorado Springs icons. Thanks to donations from Lee and Dolores Schlessman and to Susan Duncan, a brick wall now surrounds the area featuring limestone floral carvings, bronze plaques of Artus and Anne Van Briggle and colorful tile panels all created by master stone carver Larry Terrafranca.
On September 17, the Woman's Educational Society of Colorado College will host tours of the building, 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 and children under 12 are free with proceeds going toward scholarships. No reservations are needed. Visitors will learn the bittersweet story of Artus and Anne Van Briggle, their art pottery and tiles, and the memorial building that has endured over 100 years. George Eckhardt and Dan Crossey of Colorado College will share their expertise, as will historian Judith Rice-Jones.
Orginally from Ohio, Artus Van Briggle arrived in Colorado Springs in 1899 seeking relief from tuberculosis. He had met his wife Anne, also an artist, when they studied together in Paris. In their pottery business on north Nevada Avenue, he perfected a unique matte finish simulating an ancient Ming Dynasty glaze. Honored at the Paris Salon and the St. Louis World's Fair, his work was purchased by the Louvre Museum in 1904, but Artus died of his disease in July of that year at the age of 35--a shocking loss to the art world. Anne built the pottery building in his honor on land donated by General William Palmer, and continued producing his designs, although she re-married, moved to Denver, and sold the business in 1912.
Today private collectors treasure Van Briggle pottery and it is displayed in museums throughout the U.S.A. including the Metroplitan Museum of Art in New York. The Kirkland Museum in Denver, the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center and the Pioneers Museum all own Van Briggle tile and pottery pieces. Van Briggle fireplaces may be found in historic homes near downtown Colorado Springs. Several years, the pottery building was featured on the PBS series, Antiques Roadshow. After a long tenure in the Roundhouse at Cimarron and 21st Street, the Van Briggle Art Pottery business presently operates at 1024 South Tejon Street.