Exhibit features Mt. Pleasant's glass legacy
By Linda Harkcom
Published: Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012, 8:51 p.m.
The Mt. Pleasant Glass Exhibit opened recently at the In-Town Shops on Main Street in the borough.
The exhibit, which will remain open through year's end, was created by the newly formed Mt. Pleasant Cultural Trust to highlight the legacy of the area's glass industry — something trust members said is of primary value to the area's overall history.
Featured there are glass-making tools, books, photographs and other documents celebrating various aspects of the local industry, as well as glass and porcelain products from the three, world-famous Mt. Pleasant glass factories: Bryce Brothers Glass Co. Inc., Lenox Glass and L.E. Smith Glass Co.
The exhibit may eventually grow into a full-fledged glass museum based upon the level of public interest, said trust member Cassandra Vivian.
If the exhibit is well-attended, it will prove there is interest within the community for a museum honoring the town's glass heritage, she said.
“If everyone who worked at one of the glass factories would become a member at $25 a year, we could open the museum because it would pay for the day-to-day maintenance of a museum,” Vivian said.
Tammy Collins of Scottdale was one of more than 20 visitors to the exhibit on its opening day last Friday. She was a former Lenox employee.
“It's beautiful. It's a good representation of all the work they have done over the years,” Collins said. “I think a glass museum is a great idea. So many people in this area worked at those plants and it's an important part of our heritage.”
The exhibit is made up of pieces that are on loan from various community members as well as from those outside the community.
Pittsburgh's Harley Trice is the great-great-grandson of James Bryce, the founder of Bryce Brothers.
Trice said he has loaned and given the group a number of items from his personal collection for the exhibit from his ancestor's company which manufactured hand-blown glass in Mt. Pleasant from 1896 to 1965.
As gifts, Trice said he has given reprints of more than six vintage photos of the Bryce factory in Mt. Pleasant and its employees there.
He added that he has lent the group items from the company such as a bronze stamp used to put the Bryce Brothers hallmark on cardboard shipping boxes, a hand-lettered display sign, a six-page memo on Bryce Brothers stationary, an 18th century European print of glassmakers and a book of reprints of four Bryce Brothers catalogs from 1950 to 1965.
Trice said he has also lent examples of pressed glass made by the several Bryce companies in Pittsburgh from 1850 to 1882, including those featuring a Tulip & Sawtooth pattern, and a dozen pieces of blown glass made at the Bryce Brothers' Mt. Pleasant glass company, several of which with original labels still attached.
“I am making this loan in the hope that it will help generate interest in the creation of a major permanent exhibition to celebrate the glass-making heritage of Mt. Pleasant,” Trice said.
Mary D. Shaw of Mt. Pleasant celebrated her 81st birthday at the glass exhibit opening. Shaw said she worked in the show rooms of all three Mt. Pleasant glass manufacturers.
“I am just so thrilled that I have been able to live to see this. I think it is wonderful,” she said.
Shaw said she loaned the exhibit at least 20 pieces from her personal collection which included items she said her late father, Joseph Kamawalsky, made during the 55 years he worked for L.E. Smith Glass.
Vivian said that, in addition to the exhibit, the Mt. Pleasant Cultural Trust will soon set up a small boutique which will include books on glass and glassware by Peter O'Rourke, a local glass cutter who has created pieces for the White House.
Exhibit hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.
For tours, to donate or loan glassware and glass-related items or for further information, contact Vivian at at 724-542-4949 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Linda Harkcom is a freelance writer.
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