The magic began in 1952 when Eunisa Greenlaw Wordell decided to open Chatharbor Pottery and Gift Shop on Cockle Cove Road. Her husband, Dr. Arnold Edgar Wordell, built the seasonal shop and family vacation house as an extension of several “cottage colonies” that were handed down to them. Eunisa stocked the tiny shop with jewelry, home décor items, and prints while her 12-year-old son, Nathaniel B. Wordell, learned how to run the business. His mother quickly lost interest in the venture, but Nat cleverly took what he had learned from his pottery teacher at the Waldorf School in Wilton, N.H. and turned it into his very own pottery shop, still in operation today.
In his rustic potter’s studio behind the shop, Wordell patiently transforms soft clay into permanent figurines.
“You’re making something that could be around for 1,000 years. I don’t limit myself to one particular thing,” Wordell said as he stood among his many creations with his wife, Joy. In addition to a large selection of clay animals, shells, and angels, he enjoys creating lighthouses and Christmas nativity sets.
“I am always looking for new concepts in lighthouses and manger scenes,” shared potter Wordell.
With its low ceiling and cozy lighting, the shop seems magical because it looks like it could belong to Santa’s elves. Nat and Joy especially enjoy giving tours of their shop and peaceful gardens to kids. During the holiday season, they dress up like Mr. and Mrs. Claus and invite students and adults from Cape Abilities to their colonial home. They enjoy supporting and helping others in need. They think back fondly to the years when they also operated a much larger Chatharbor Pottery and Gifts store in Chatham’s Town Hall Square. Nat was a music and drama teacher in Chatham while Joy taught at Trinity Christian Academy in Barnstable. Currently, Nat still teaches music part-time at the Academy when he isn’t in his pottery studio, and Joy cares for their gardens, Grandparent’s rental cottage, and sweet shop.
“A lot of people on the Cape don’t know the historic significance of the shop. It’s the longest continuing shop in Chatham with the same owners,” said Nat with a twinkle in his eye. “I have a love relationship with this shop and I want people to want to come back, and they do!”
Chatharbor Pottery and Gifts overlooks the spectacular salt marshes which were donated by the Wordells to the Chatham Conservation Foundation. The shop is located at 358 Cockle Cove Rd. and is open each year from the end of May to the end of October. For more information, call 508-432-4578.