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Society's exhibit features glass from Fayette County's infancy

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Fayette County Historical Society Treasurer Jo Lofstead (left) and President Christine Buckelew examine a few rare pieces of Thompson glass in the Loop and Block pattern, a pattern that was only recently recognized and identified as being Thompson glass. The items are a part of the collection on loan for the display by Madelyn and Jay Cindric of Uniontown.

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Saturday, May 17, 2014, 7:03 p.m.

In an area that is rich in history and heritage, Fayette County can boast the fostering of many industries and enterprises that once dotted the booming towns in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

To showcase some of the industries that built the county and its people, the Fayette County Historical Society will be presenting a special glass exhibit titled “The Glasshouses: Gallatin to Houze Celebrating 200 Years of History.”

The exhibit is the second in the society's series titled “Made in Fayette” that will focus on different industries from around the county.

“We are going to be featuring things that are made in Fayette County,” said Fayette County Historical Society president Christine Buckelew, adding that the group's first exhibit that featured stoneware and pottery from around the county was well received.

The group hopes to offer several different types of exhibits in the future.

“What we hope to do is recognize all the early industries in Fayette County,” Fayette County Historical Society treasurer Jo Lofstead said.

The glass exhibit in the Abel Colley Tavern and Museum, a site that was donated to the historical society, will run weekends through June 8.

Wonderful examples of numerous Fayette County Glasshouses are beautifully arranged and displayed in cases that cover almost the entire first floor of the tavern.

Examples of glass from well-known glasshouses such as Thompson, Gallatin, Brownsville and Houze are on display as well as some wonderful pieces from smaller or less-known glasshouses from across the county.

“We want this to be educational as well as something that people can enjoy,” Buckelew said.

The exhibit features many items that are owned by the members of the Fayette County Historical Society as well as several collections that are on loan to the group from collectors from all over the region.

“We have a large collection of Thompson glass,” Buckelew said, adding that they were pleased to have been able to assemble such a vast assortment of examples of Fayette County glass, with the oldest dating to 1797.

Included in the exhibit are several rare glass items, many of which are on display for the first time.

“There is glass here from some of these collections that has never been a part of a public display before, so we are thrilled to have it here as part of our exhibit,” Buckelew said.

Visitors to the display can feel free to wander through the rooms, looking at the glassware and reading all of the interesting literature, histories and even old glass advertisements that are also there for the public to enjoy.

“We don't have a script or anything,” Lofstead said. “People can just walk through and take their time to look at everything. We want them to take their time to appreciate what appeals to them.”

There is also glassware, including some that is antique, available for purchase, with the society receiving a portion of the proceeds from the sales.

As the National Road Festival will be passing by the tavern that is located west of Uniontown on Route 40, the society will be welcome glassblower Justin Fike of Farmington, who will give live demonstrations on site from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. today.

“We want people to be proud of Fayette County and proud of all of the industries that built the county, and glass was certainly one of them,” Buckelew said.

The Abel Colley Tavern and Museum at 7083 National Road will be open from 11 to 4 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through June 8.

There will be a $5 admission charged to all nonmembers. Members may tour for free.

Marilyn Forbes is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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