Mt. Pleasant Glass Museum builds toward grand opening
By A.J. Panian
Published: Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
The recently relocated Mt. Pleasant Glass Museum will open to visitors during the area's hallmark event — the 27th annual Mt. Pleasant Glass & Ethnic Festival.
The facility — which on July 31 moved to the Mt. Pleasant Glass Center at 402 E. Main St. in Mt. Pleasant Township — is still developing but will be in operation from noon to 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday, coinciding with the festival days.
“Every single item might not be in place, but we will be presentable,” said Cassandra Vivian, president of the museum's board of directors, regarding the new museum space.
Master glass cutter Peter O'Rourke, proprietor of O'Rourke Crystal and Antique Glass at the center, donated 1,200 square-feet of space to the museum to enable the move from its original location at the In Town Shops along at 537 W. Main St. in Mt. Pleasant Borough.
“I'm really happy with the progress. It's a long process, but I'm amazed at the effort they're putting in,” said O'Rourke regarding the work of the museum's volunteers. “After all the tearing apart, it's beginning take shape. We're looking to pull it together for the festival.”
In the process of settling in at the new site, museum officials helped O'Rourke transport all of his glassware into half of the area it originally occupied, Vivian said.
Painting of the space was completed by crews led by Allen W. Leighliter, a former Lenox employee who donated to the museum the original charter of the American Flint Glass Workers Union Local 597, established in 1941, along with minutes for each of the union's 60-plus years of meetings,
O'Rourke then repainted the facility's floor with epoxy, Vivian said.
“Then we began moving our heavy objects,” she said.
Prior to that, museum officials asked most of the lenders to take home their glassware which had been on display at the former site, Vivian said.
“We are awaiting the arrival of several new display cases and some bookcases, chairs, and tables for our library,” she said.
Once those items arrive, Vivian said, museum officials will begin archiving and creating a permanent exhibit.
“It is a job,” she said. “Of course, our docents have bore most of the burden.”
The museum's docents include Sharon Hribal, Don and Cheryel Sechrist, Butch Henkel, Jim Eads, Terry Porterfield, Ken Trice, Alastair Hooper and Duaine Fuoss.
The museum's temporary banner can be seen from state Route 31, Vivian said, and the facility is handicapped accessible.
Located in the area once occupied by the cafeteria of the former Lenox Crystal factory, the museum's interior space will feature an exhibit area featuring Mt. Pleasant's three former glass factories — Bryce Brothers Glass, L.E. Smith Glass Co. and Lenox Crystal.
“We are reproducing the logos of the three factories to hang above each exhibit,” said Vivian, adding that the facility will also offer visitors a library and a museum shop. “Each exhibit will be arranged chronologically.”
There will also be special pull-out exhibits, she said.
For example, in a 1955 advertisement in the “Crockery and Glass” magazine, the Bryce brothers presented glassware purchased and used by famous hotels and resorts, including the Fontainebleau Hotel, Greenbrier Spa and Los Angeles Country Club.
“We plan to reproduce that ad in three dimensions with the actual glasses,” she said.
Along with the company exhibits, the museum's library is growing, Vivian said.
“We have books and catalogs, but to date the most important research material is the charters and minute books from the American Flint Glass Workers various Mount Pleasant unions,” she said.
The museum is seeking all forms of information related to glass in Mt. Pleasant, including ads, pamphlets, booklets, photographs and memorabilia, Vivian said.
“We are hoping to make it available on PA ACCESS, the statewide library catalog,” she said.
The museum shop will feature the facility's our souvenir glass, a product produced by Glass Automatic/Rolf Glass, which is also located at the center, Vivian said.
“The shop will also have books on glass, a limited number of glass and artifacts from local collectors, and various novelty items related to glass,” she said.
The Bryce exhibit will be on loan from the archives of Harley N. Trice, the great-great grandson of company co-founder James Bryce, and Hribal's collection will complete the holdings, Vivian said.
“It will cover the span of time from 1825 when a Bryce began working in the industry as an indenture to the closing of the factory at Mt. Pleasant in the 1960s,” she said.
Much of the Lenox exhibit will come from the collection of Connellsville's Leslie Kurtz, Vivian said.
“Lenox crystal will be the major focus of our collection, not Lenox china,” she said.
The L.E. Smith exhibit will feature a large, donated cache of glass, books and artifacts, in addition to two large display cases, from Sandy Spence, daughter and granddaughter of C.L. Spence Jr. and Sr., respectively, who were both top executives at the company for most of its existence, Vivian said.
“Our major feature of L.E. Smith exhibit will be black glass and automobile headlights,” she said.
Spence said it's wonderful that the museum is offering to take the artifacts of her ancestors off of her hands.
“I'm so impressed by what Cassandra they're doing, it's just phenomenal,” said Spence, a resident of Lewes, Del. “I was so upset when that factory closed down for good, so I'm thrilled that people can be celebrate its history with pride now.”
A grand opening at the museum is planned for a to-be-determined date and time, Vivian said.
A.J. Panian is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 or email@example.com.
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