Mt. Pleasant Glass Museum gains notoriety via out-of-state publication
By A.J. Panian
Published: Wednesday, July 24, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
As volunteer docents at the Mt. Pleasant Glass Museum, Scottdale's Don and Cheryel Sechrist are always eager to spread the word about the burgeoning, non-profit entity that celebrates the area's rich glass industry.
The couple recently discovered that information about the museum — which contains glass items made locally at the former Bryce Brothers, L.E. Smith and Lenox Crystal plants — is now appearing in out-of-state publications.
During a trip in June to Buckhannon, W. Va., the couple, collectors of local glass products for 48 years, happened on a copy of the April 2013 edition of a magazine called All About Glass which is published by the Museum of American Glass in Weston, W. Va.
While leafing through its pages, the Sechrists discovered to their delight a brief profile of the museum located at 537 W. Main St. in the borough.
“It took me by surprise,” said Don Sechrist, 69, who previously worked for Lenox Crystal before the local plant closed in 2002.
When Sechrist showed the article to Cassandra Vivian, president of the Mt. Pleasant museum's board of directors, her feeling was one of pure elation, she said.
“It's just wonderful,” Vivian said. “We are being accepted into the world of the glass clubs and the glass museums. We are a welcome addition. This is fabulous news.”
Tom Felt, editor of All About Glass, counts himself as a registered member of Mt. Pleasant Glass Museum, and it's not hard to understand why.
“I have a vested interest in Mt. Pleasant glass history,” Felt said.
As the author of 11 books on the glass industry, Felt has written two of them on the history of the L.E. Smith Glass Company, he said.
The works, titled “L.E. Smith Glass Company — The First One Hundred Years” and “L.E. Smith — Encyclopedia of Glass Patterns & Products, Identification & Values,” were published in 2007 and 2011, respectively, by Collector Books based in Paducah, Ky.
“They sold relatively well, considering the fact that its such an obscure topic, said Felt, who added that both books are now out of print but can be purchased as eBooks at collectorbooks.com.
When Felt found out about the formation of the Mt. Pleasant museum in late 2012, he was quick to lend his support by becoming a member, he said.
“I became a member as soon as I heard about it,” he said. “I know how difficult it is to start one of these museums.”
When the American Museum of Glass in West Virginia was started in 1993, there were a few years of struggle before the facility gained a groundswell of solid support, Felt said.
“I know the importance of support to another museum. I think it's also important that they've gotten local support, that's really a key to their success.”
It certainly doesn't hurt that Felt further enhanced such support by including a blurb about the museum in his magazine.
“Our publication does try to cover all American glass, so we're supportive of all museums trying to do the same thing,” he said.
This month, the Mt. Pleasant museum spurred the interest of Carl Hearn, editor of the NewsJournal of the Early American Pattern Glass Society.
The NewsJournal is a quarterly publication of the national, nonprofit organization founded in 1994 by a group of collectors and dealers to foster and encourage the collection, appreciation, study, preservation and documentation of early American Pattern Glassware, its makers and its place in American life, past and present, according to the society's website, eapgs.org.
Earlier this month, Hearn sent Vivian an email requesting she write an article for the NewsJournal about the museum.
“One of our strong commitments to the membership is education. Museums are a great source to learn about glass history so it is a bit of a natural to tell the members about a new museum,” Hearn said. “Cassandra sent me an outline of an article and we went on to develop the details of an article.”
The piece will appear in the next edition of the NewsJournal due out Aug. 15, Hearn said.
It focuses largely on the importance of the museum's docents like the Sechrists, to the success of the facility, Vivian said.
“I can't impress enough how important these docents are, when it comes to greeting people who visit the museum; they're just as valuable as the glass,” she said of the officials, who also include Mary Shaw, Sharon Hribal, Jim Enos, Butch Henkel and Leslie Kurtz.
“They can answer all your questions, they have a lifetime of wisdom, and they love to talk glass amongst themselves,” she said.
Vivian added that she is currently preparing an article on the museum for publication in the September edition of Connellsville Crossroads Magazine, which is produced by the Fayette County Cultural Trust, she said.
News of such continued attention to the museum makes Sechrist — a former Lenox Crystal employee — very proud, he said.
“I left the factories, but the glass stays in your heart and in your mind,” he said. “Things are moving on pretty good for our museum and so on. If it keeps growing, it will be good for the tourist trade in Mt. Pleasant.”
The board of directors of the Mt. Pleasant Glass Museum Inc. is in the process of acquiring its status as a nonprofit, Vivian said.
The attorney representing the group in its pursuit of such a certification is John M. O'Connell Jr. of the O'Connell & Silvis law firm in Greensburg, Vivian said.
Club to visit museum Friday
Beginning today through Saturday, the Phoenix and Consolidated Glass Collector's Club will hold its 21st annual convention at the Embassy Suites Hotel at Pittsburgh International Airport near Coraopolis.
On Friday afternoon, roughly 25 club members are planning to visit the Mt. Pleasant Glass Museum, along with Greendance Winery and Sand Hill Berry Farm in Mt. Pleasant Township.
Josh Bair, a borough native, is the national club's local leader.
“Having grown up in this town myself, I have pride sharing our heritage,” Bair said.
Glass museum to relocate Wednesday
The Mt. Pleasant Glass Museum will be moving from the In-Town Shops on Wednesday.
The organization's new location will be at the Mt. Pleasant Glass Center at 402 E. Main St.
The move will be permanent.
The new museum site will be half of a site currently occupied by master glass cutter Peter O'Rourke.
The museum will occupy 1,200 square-feet. It will house a display area, a small library, a gift shop and a demonstration area.
O'Rourke will continue to occupy the remainder of the site.
Anyone who has items on loan to the museum is asked to make an appointment to come and collect their items from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday through Tuesday.
Those who come are asked to bring their intake sheets and boxes in which to place their items. Those planning to come for their items are asked not to come before Saturday.
More details on the move will appear in the Aug. 1 edition of the Journal.
A.J. Panian is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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