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Open house is April 27 at Mt. Pleasant's In-Town Shops

| Wednesday, April 17, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Rolf Poeting, owner of Glassautomatic Inc./Rolf Glass located at the Mt. Pleasant Glass Center along state Route 31 East in Mt. Pleasant Township.
Jan Lewczenko, a Mt. Pleasant resident and master crystal cutter, sculptor and designer, works at his borough business, J.L. Crystal Artistry.

The Mt. Pleasant Area Historical Society and the Mt. Pleasant Glass Museum Inc. both will take part in an open house from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 27 at the In-Town Shops at 537 W. Main St. in the borough.

The event is free and open to the public.

Rick Meason, the society's president, hopes the event will serve as an opportunity for the public to come in and see the organization's inner workings, he said.

“Hopefully, it will help draw in some new (society) members, too,” Meason said. “We need new members to come in to help us with some of the projects we're working on.”

Some of the society's scheduled projects include the Historic Cemetery Walk scheduled for June 1 and planned involvement with the Mt. Pleasant Glass & Ethnic Festival in September.

“We (at the society) have a limited, core group of people available to do the work that's necessary to keep things moving,” Meason said. “I really, strongly feel that if we can expand the (society's) membership base, we can expand our projects in the community and bring more history to the town of Mt. Pleasant.”

Cassandra Vivian, president of the glass museum's board of directors, hopes to attract new museum members through the event to further the organization's mission of celebrating the area's glass industry history, which includes Bryce Brothers, L.E. Smith and Lenox Crystal, she said.

“Since we've opened, we have had 700 people come to visit us, and we are overwhelmed by the enthusiasm, but our membership needs to grow,” Vivian said. “By introducing the public to more glass personalities, we're hoping they'll join us as members to help us continue to thrive and grow.”

The museum will be showing a series of videos made at L.E. Smith Glass and Lenox Crystal from the 1960s through the 1980s. Some of the videos might be for sale, Vivian said. In addition, some well-known glass personalities will be attending at different times during the day, including:

• Jan Lewczenko, a Mt. Pleasant master crystal cutter, sculptor and designer and former employee of Lenox Crystal.

Lewczenko, a native of Poland who has lived in Mt. Pleasant for 30 years, was once chosen among the cutters working at Lenox to complete the inaugural gifts presented to President George H.W. Bush in 1989 and President Bill Clinton in 1992.

To this day, he receives requests to produce commemorative cut glass items for the American government at his private business, J.L. Crystal Artistry, which he has run since 1992 along West Vine Street the borough, he said.

“Whenever they need something, they contact me,” Lewczenko said.

Lewczenko currently has pieces featured in an art exhibit at the Studio 7 Gallery in Bernardsville, N.J., and occasionally produces work for Tiffany in New York.

He said he looks forward to discussing his craft and displaying a few of his pieces during the event.

“Cassandra (Vivian) said she would like to revive glass history in Mt. Pleasant, and I agree that there's a lot of glass history here to preserve,” Lewczenko said. “I'm definitely willing to help with this event.”

• Rolf Poeting, owner of Glassautomatic Inc./Rolf Glass located at the Mt. Pleasant Glass Center on state Route 31 East in Mt. Pleasant Township.

Poeting founded the company in 1981 after immigrating from Dusseldorf, Germany.

“I've been here (in Mt. Pleasant) for 10 years, and I spent 10 years in Latrobe before that and, prior to that, I was in a partnership with St. George Crystal in Jeannette,” Poeting said. “We are glass-engravers and cutters, and we are an industrial manufacturer. This type of work, we're the only ones in the Americas.”

The company employs 50 people who work 24 hours day in overlapping shifts to produce more than 2 million pieces per year, Poeting said.

Products include glassware, drinkware, stemware, bowls and other tabletop items adorned with nautical themes, palm trees, sea shells and schools of fish.

Poeting said that, during the open house, he plans to explain in greater detail the ins-and-outs of his company's work and to exhibit a few of the company's products.

“If you look at the glass industry, you see what a dominant role it played for western Pennsylvania and how it really changed the region.”

• Jay Hawkins — author of “Glasshouses and Glass Manufacturers of the Pittsburgh Region 1795-1910” — will be signing his book from 1 to 3 p.m.

Those who visit the historical society or the museum during the open house will be entered into a drawing to win prizes, and they will also receive a 15-percent-off coupon for Angie's Cafe.

Visitors who redeem the coupon will also be entered into a drawing at Angie's Cafe.

A.J. Panian is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 or