Mt. Pleasant Glass Museum grand opening nears
By A.J. Panian
Published: Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Cassandra Vivian said she is not at all surprised by how far the Mt. Pleasant Glass Museum has come in roughly one calendar year.
“This was the plan — to take an exhibit, see if there was interest, and then determine a permanent location,” said Vivian, executive director of the nonprofit organization.
Next week, the museum will celebrate its grand opening at the Mt. Pleasant Glass Center, the former Lenox Crystal plant, located at 402 E. Main St. (State Route 31 East), Suite 600, in Mt. Pleasant Township.
In a moment of brief reflection, Vivian recently admitted that she is “extremely happy” with the museum's evolution and excited about its potential for future growth.
Last November, Vivian led a small group of local glass industry enthusiasts in discussing the creation of an exhibit honoring the legacies of the Mt. Pleasant area's three hallowed glass houses: Bryce Brothers, Lenox Crystal and L.E. Smith.
What began as a fledgling effort to preserve one of the area's strongest heritages has since blossomed into a full-fledged, nonprofit organization.
Its all-volunteer board of directors helped develop “The Glassblower” — a quarterly newsletter — and together with Vivian have worked to attract more than 100 members, including the world-famous Corning Museum of Glass in New York.
The museum docents — most who worked in one or more of those glass houses — have provided invaluable information on the story of the local glass industry to hundreds of visitors and tourists.
To put a shine on it all, the museum relocated over the summer from its original space at the In Town Shops, a business incubator in Mt. Pleasant Borough, to the more spacious center.
It is there where world-renowned glasscutter Peter O'Rourke rented out 1,200 square feet of space at his business, O'Rourke Crystal and Antique Glass, for use by the burgeoning facility.
“Once we found the location with Peter, it was obvious we were going to have something special,” Vivian said. “It took a while, but we had to be sure that we would be financially in the position to make that commitment, and all of that happened.”
O'Rourke, known far and wide for preparing glass bowls issued to several U.S. presidents and vice presidents on Inauguration Day, is pleased with the development of the museum there, he said.
“I'm very happy with the way things are progressing, and all the work that Cassandra and all the volunteers are putting into it, they're giving up their effort and time to make this thing a reality,” O'Rourke said.
Grand-opening festivities will include an invitation-only, cocktail party with members, dignitaries and special guests from 5 to 7 p.m. Nov. 14. Those invited are asked to RSVP via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 724-542-4949.
Events will carry over to the weekend, as another invitation-only event will be held in which members of various regional glass clubs will receive a tour of the museum on Nov. 16.
“We're hoping that new relationships will grow out of that,” Vivian said. “We are not opposed to celebrating the other glass factories and telling the whole story.”
In particular, Vivian said she has been in talks with Ken and Jackie Kosoglow of the Westmoreland Glass Club regarding the eventual showcasing of glass from factories outside the Mt. Pleasant area at the museum.
“We were thinking about June for an exhibit,” said Jackie Kosoglow, the club's membership secretary and newsletter committee member. “Western Pennsylvania was famous for its glass factories, and we have 3,000 pieces of glass.”
The public is welcome to attend an open house to be held from noon to 4 p.m. Nov. 17 at the museum, Vivian said.
“We're going to have all the docents there prepared to provide tours, and we're hoping for a big crowd,” she said.
In particular, Vivian said she hopes local residents will make up a sizable portion of those in attendance.
“At this point, only one-third of the membership is local,” she said.
In an effort to make the destination more attractive to those from the area, O'Rourke said he is working with Vivian to create an atmosphere in which visitors, particularly former employees of the local factories, can sit and discuss their memories in comfort.
“I'd like to make it a venue where the ex-workers can come back and reminisce about the old factory days,” O'Rourke said.
While the Mt. Pleasant Borough lost the museum when it was relocated, Mayor Jerry Lucia said he understands the benefits of the move to the glass center.
“There's more space out there for them,” he said.
When asked about the facility's growth rate, Lucia primarily credited Vivian.
“I'm not surprised because of one factor, Cassandra is a very strong, motivated person ... I look forward to it being a big success,” he said.
Frank Puskar, chairman of Mt. Pleasant Township's board of supervisors, appreciates the value of having the museum within the municipality's boundaries, he said.
“It celebrates the three factories from Mt. Pleasant that basically built Mt. Pleasant, and I think that's fantastic,” Puskar said. “Even though they were local to us, they were world famous. Mt. Pleasant Township is happy to see them move into that building.”
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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