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Lakewood Pottery Story

no.040 2011-06-01 rev

Any Broadmoor narrative would do well to include Lakewood Pottery. The potteries often have identical glazes, forms, clay bodies and laquered bottoms with very similar ink stamps.

Lakewood Pottery was founded by Jacob and May Heimlich. In March we interviewed family of May Heimlich.

May Heimlich's daughter at Lakewood Pottery

May's daughter Leona remembers working for Jacob and her mother in the late 1940s. She pointed out several Broadmoor vases in Colorado Pottery that were also made at Lakewood Pottery's "shop".

May Heimlich

Leona worked at the pottery for one or two years -- "it was a lot of work" -- and recalled the shop later made only concrete and plaster items until again taking up ceramics in the late 1950s.

Broadmoor-like pottery was probably made at Lakewood only through the 1940s. Afterward when May Heimlich did most of her carved and decorated work the pottery looks slip cast or slab formed with a very white clay.

Jacob and May Heimlich and Lakewood Pottery

Jacob (Jake) Heimlich and May Davis were both from large families. The eldest son of Hungarian immigrants Jake was eleven years old in 1900, when his family moved to Denver. They had lived in Manhattan, New York where he was born.

In contrast the Davis family traveled to Colorado from Yates Center, Kansas in 1922, in a covered wagon. May was then eighteen when her family began sharecropping just east of Denver in Byers, Colorado.

Jacob and May were married in August 1937. The sites for their future home and what was originally to be named the Golden Sunset Art Pottery were on West Colfax Avenue in rural unincorporated Lakewood, Colorado.

The June 1937, photo shows the site of the house that Jake and his younger brother Louis built. It was next door to the Lakewood Pottery shop they also built.

Jacob in 1950

Both Jake and Louis worked as machinists for the Durango and Rio Grand Railroad. Jake knew concrete and plaster and had many other skills. Leona said he would "mix and cast concrete blocks one-by-one each morning before work." Then after work he and Louis would build the house, pottery shop and a third smaller house.

Leona didn't remember exactly when the house and Lakewood Pottery shop were completed, but it was likely around the time Broadmoor folded in 1939. The Denver directory that year lists Jake, brothers Louis and Joseph, and father Moritz located on Lowell Blvd just off West Colfax Ave.

After working for Wright McGill in downtown Denver for thirteen years making fishing flies, May read everything she could about pottery. She studied basics of art for two years under Don Griffith and later taught ceramics in the Denver area and elsewhere in Colorado. Leona recalled that at Lakewood Pottery "May was the artist and Jake did everything else."

Leona also remembers Jake and her mom looked everywhere to find pottery molds. They traveled throughout the country including the west coast and even attended the world's fair in New York in 1939.

Lakewood Pottery shop

Today the house is gone but the former shop at 6955 West Colfax remains. The shop front now has a wood facade but the concrete blocks that Jake cast can be seen at the side of the building. The windows look original.

Leona mentioned the other small concrete block house still remains to the west. She has made a map of the grounds we hope to show later.

The shop was used for pottery making. "The only work done at the house was plaster....(and) a concrete mixer was in the back yard" that Jake used to make items for sale such as bird baths, figurals and other yard ornamentation.

"The business made pottery and concrete and plaster items up until the late 1940s; only plaster and concrete items until the late 50s when ceramic making was restarted; and finally a porcelain process was added in later years until the early 70s."

Many of Broadmoor Pottery's molds, glaze recipes and kiln firing schedules ended up at Lakewood Pottery in the early 1940s. The large kiln that Leona remembers "...was also used to fire ceramics for other area potters..." also probably came from the closed Broadmoor-Denver operation.

We wonder if Jonathan Hunt helped set up the early Lakewood Pottery operation. He was the ceramist with Broadmoor-Denver until its end and was in the Denver area until his death in 1943.

May Heimlich at Lakewood Pottery

After Lakewood resumed making ceramics in the late 1950s, May became well known in the Denver area for her work. She was president of the Colorado Ceramics Association and won numerous prizes for her work in ceramics including first place in an annual competition for ceramists in the commercial category.

Below are photos of photos of May's Denver area shows. All were probably taken from the late 1950s until the early 1970s.

This first photo shows May at a banding wheel with containers of ceramic glazes. She was a distributor for Reward Ceramics. The only reference we can find for these glazes today is an Australian glaze products company.

The next two shots show some of May's other exhibited work. Click on either to better see examples of May Heimlich's carved and decorated work. Also note the Reward Ceramics color palates above.

May's niece Lois and Leona showed us many of May's other beautifully carved, figural and decorated pieces. We hope to show a few examples in a later article.

Lakewood Pottery closed in December 1973.


We would like to extend our deep appreciation to Leona Bender for sharing her pictures and stories for this article; the gracious hospitality and openness of Lois Kramer for introducing us to Jake and May's story; the kind help of Lois' granddaughter Tiffany for making it possible to meet Leona; and finally thank you Tony for introducing us to the family.

Related articles are Lakewood Pottery and May Heimlich Bowl.

Please contact us if you have insights on this or other topics. Thank you.