In 1899, Horace E. Potter converted the chicken coop on his fathers farm into a jewelry workshop, where he focused on styles from the Arts & Craft movement. He later established the metalworking department of the Cleveland Institute of Art.
Since then, all the goldsmiths employed at the business he created Potter and Mellen Inc. have been trained at CIA, and each artisan has worked under his predecessor.
This year, Potter and Mellen, located on Carnegie Avenue near East 105th Street, celebrates its 100th anniversary not bad for a storefront retailer.
Survival has not always followed a straight path. We do it all, says Ellen Stirn Mavec, who admits that at one point, the company sold garden supplies.
Today, while the company offers the usual high-end decorator goods that befit a good bridal registry and corporate gift center, its roots in metalworking trace directly back to Potter.
The current goldsmith is Jim Mazurkewicz, a 1967 graduate of the CIA. He studied and worked under Frederick Miller, who trained under Potter and eventually bought the business.
Mazurkewicz says hes still waiting for the next generation to join the business a succession he and Mavec take seriously.
I think for one thing, I find myself really being aware of a sense of history, Mazurkewicz says. Occasionally, its brought to my attention and I sort of marvel that Im a part of that and Im proud to be a part of it.
Mavec plans to celebrate the centennial with a series of lectures, exhibitions and special events. The official party is May 1. She has also announced a $1,500 annual gift for the CIA, to be used for the purchase of raw gold and silver.
How to reach: Potter and Mellen Inc. (216) 231-5100