The Building

The building is important architecturally as an example of a small industrial complex. It’s most striking exterior feature is the original conical stack, which towers over the rambling brick and metal building that houses the original 1896 reverberatory gas furnace, the blowing and lehr rooms, formerly the pot arches, and other areas needed for the factory’s operations. The water tower, situated in front, has called attention to the complex for decades.

Much of the original 1896 brick portion is still standing, as is that section designed by Elmer Jacobs after a disastrous fire in 1902. Jacobs, a prominent Morgantown architect better known for his designs for residential and commercial buildings in Morgantown, had earlier designed factories in Pittsburgh.

Maps, floor plans, and interviews with former workers indicate that throughout its history, the Industrial complex consisted of work areas or shops, all connected by doors, passageways, and bridges. Throughout the years, small units were added onto the main building and into the grounds out front.

In 1947, the post-war boom demanded extensive expansion, and the firm constructed a major addition to the northwest for glass cutting, removed many of the small buildings, and replaced with corrugated steel much of the original corrugated iron that had covered portions of the blowing room.

When the plant closed in 1983, the original cutting room on the second floor still contained the old freight elevator. The cutting room floor was diagonally laid with maple and white pine boards, and almost four dozen windows let the light pour in.

The massive blowing room was the heart of the building. Eighty by eighty feet, it still houses the magnificent brick stack, furnace, and fourteen clay ovens, or pots. The stack rises approximately thirty feet from the floor to its point of penetration through the hipped roof. All of the late nineteenth-century wooden and metal structural members of the dramatic roof trussing are exposed–literally hundreds of posts, girders, bolsters, rafters, bridges, and sills. High up on the roof are the louvered vents of the lantern, which were manually opened and closed to allow hot air to escape and cool air to enter.