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Mt. Pleasant Glass Museum starts membership drive

| Monday, Dec. 17, 2012, 12:07 a.m.
Special guest Harley Trice and M-PACT President Cassandra Vivian enjoy an exchange at the reception to launch a membership drive for the Mt. Pleasant Glass Museum. Marilyn Forbes | for the Daily Courier dec 2012
Volunteer and former glass worker Don Sechrist demonstrates the tools used in the “hot end” of a glass factory. Marilyn Forbes | for the Daily Courier dec 2012

In hopes of turning the Mt. Pleasant glass exhibit into a more permanent Mt. Pleasant Glass Museum in the borough, a membership drive has begun.

The exhibit is now featured in the In-Town-Shops located along Main Street in the borough. Since the doors opened, interest has been steady.

“I think it's amazing,” Mt. Pleasant Area Cultural Trust president and exhibit organizer Cassandra Vivian said of the amount of people that have visited the extensive display to date. “We opened on Nov. 23 and we have had over 170 visitors so far.”

Over the years, Mt. Pleasant was home to not one but three different world-famous glass manufacturers — Bryce Brothers Glass, Lenox Crystal and L.E. Smith Glass.

M-PACT wants to bring the history of those glass glory days to visitors of the borough, while also establishing an interesting display for its residents to enjoy, Vivian said.

The glass manufacturers were large employers for many years, with hundreds of families making one or more a family work tradition.

“Everyone who comes in here has a story,” Vivian said. “It would be hard to find anyone from town who has not worked in one of the factories or who knows someone or a family member who worked at either L.E Smith Glass, Bryce Brothers or Lenox. Glass is this town's history.”

Don Sechrist of Scottdale was a skilled worker in the “hot end” at Bryce Brothers and is a volunteer at the exhibit, where he explains how the process of forming glass items worked.

“I really enjoyed glass-making,” Sechrist said. “It's an interesting process and I love to talk about it.”

At a private reception during which the membership drive was announced, many visitors from the borough were welcomed as well as Harley Trice of Pittsburgh, a great-great-grandson of James Bryce, one of the founders of Bryce Brothers Glass.

“I think that this was well justified,” Trice said of the exhibit. “There were several glass-makers here and there is a lot of history behind the glass-making.”'

Trice has lent many family pieces to the exhibit.

The exhibit was a project launched by M-PACT. Memberships are now available to join the Mt. Pleasant Glass Museum, a nonprofit program that hopes to fund a permanent display for the town and its visitors to enjoy for many years to come.

The donations and membership fees will help the museum in its mission and will also fund possible displays, demonstrations and public programs in the future.

“If only 200 members donate $25, then that should about cover our expenses for one year,” Vivian said, adding that the membership applications are available at the exhibit and at other locations in the borough.

The group is also accepting donations and looking for volunteers to man the exhibit and upcoming museum.

Vivian said that volunteers do not have to be experts on the glass, and that many former workers from the glass factories have shown an interest in helping.

“These people are a wealth of knowledge,” Vivian said of the volunteers. “I'm constantly learning just hearing them talk and I think that this exhibit is important. It's an important thing to do.”

One of the obstacles for a green light to the museum is the need for volunteers. The group is confident, however, that as the exhibit becomes more known in the area, others will come forward to help promote what was once a large part of their workday and still an important part of their lives.

“I enjoy this and the glass is still in me,” Sechrist said. “It's there and it's a part of me.”

The exhibit is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays and Saturdays; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays; and noon to 4 p.m. Sundays.

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