The Samuel Bell Home, Strasburg, Virginia

The Samuel Bell Home, also known as Bell Pottery

Location: Strasburg, Virginia, on the corner of Fort and Queen Streets, one block off Main Street.

Built: unknown


First owner: John Balthis

1843 - 1926: Mary Bell (nee Balthis)

Chas. F. Bell, dec'd.: 1926 - 1937

Physical Description

This house is rather old looking, having more the appearance of a shop than a residence. It stands right on the street with an old picket fence in the rear which surrounds what was once a garden. The large Boxwood shrubbery is gone, but on the street side two large maples which were planted by Mrs. Samuel Bell are still flourishing (1937). Part of the first floor has been remodeled into apartments while the upstairs remains as the original -- logs chunked and daubed.

Historical Significance

This property was known as Bell Pottery. Samuel Bell, a mere youth, came to Strasburg in the summer of 1833, to conduct the pottery recently established there by a German named Beyers. After a short time, he acquired the property and induced his brother Solomon to come to Strasburg and assist him. Samuel Bell "wagoned the wares" while Solomon conducted the shop. An extensive trade was soon established and their product was stamped SOLOMON BELL, although Samuel Bell was the proprietor. Soon after his coming to Strasburg, a local artist, David Yost, made a portrait in oil of him (Samuel Bell). This fine portrait is now in the Bell home, along with many beautiful pieces of pottery of all kinds, all masterpieces.

After the death of Solomon Bell in 1882, the firm name was changed to Samuel Bell & Son, at which time the two sons, Richard F. and Charles F. were received into the proprietorship. Charles F. Bell preserved many of the tools and moulds that were used in the Bell pottery. The formulae for the mixing of the clay, and the preparation of the glazes are in his keeping.

The parlor in the Bell home was used as an office for Gen. Banks in 1862. Mrs. Bell consented to cook and bake for the wounded soldiers who were in the Presbyterian Church nearby. This church was used for the Union forces.

In the early 1880's, six potteries were in operation in Strasburg, and it was often referred to as "Pot Town". Many skilled artisans went forth from the Bell Pottery and carried their craftsmanship into the neighboring town.

December 27, 1843, Samuel Bell married Mary Balthis. As a dower, her father, John Balthis, gave to her the house and lot on which the Beyer Pottery was located. It is thought to have been built before 1840. The property remained in her name until 1926, at which time was the death of a son, Ashby. Ashby and Charles Bell had heired the property for taking care of their parents, Samuel and Mary Bell. It was the property of Charles F. Bell, dec'd. in 1937.

Source: Virginia W.P.A. Historical Inventory Project, 1937

Photo contributed by Jim Artz.

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Created November 12 2001
Updated April 23 2002
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