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Westmoreland Glass History

Specialty Glass Company, Grapeville Station, Ohio 1890 1894

Westmoreland Specialty Company, Grapeville Station, Ohio 1896 - 1923

Westmoreland Glass Company Grapeville Station, Ohio 1923 - 1984

 

Westmoreland Glass Company Furnace #1

Westmoreland Glass company about 1930

 

Westmoreland Glass company 1970s

In 1889 the Westmoreland Glass Company, of Grapeville, Pennsylvania was formed.  A group of investors fund a company which has lasted 100 years.  Mr. A. J. Stevenson of the Specialty Glass Company of Liverpool, He purchased the land at Grapeville Station which had an abundance of Natural Gas, on the property and close proximity to the Pennsylvania railroad.  This enabled him to obtain raw material easily with cost effective freight and he could also ship product by the same rail. 

Much of the history that has been published about the Westmoreland Glass company may have been taken from two letters. One letter was from the hand of A. J. Stevenson of the Specialty Glass Company of Liverpool, Ohio. The other letter was written by James H. Brainard, former president and owner of the Westmoreland Glass Company.

He divided acreage into 105 lots to mutative employee to move their families to Grapeville Station.  With free Natural gas for lighting and heating as long as it lasted, an estimated 20 years.  Employee began to relocate and the construction of the plant got started by October of 1889.  The first glass was produced in 1890.   

A few years later, the plant was purchased by two brothers, Charles H. and George West, from A. J. Stevenson and the Specialty Glass Company. Financial support was provided by Ira A. Brainard. Westmoreland Specialty Company changed hands again when in 1920 tension between brothers arose and George West sold his interest to Charles West and Ira Brainard. In 1923 the name was changed to Westmoreland Glass Company. The great depression forced Charles West to sell his interest to the Brainard family, who reorganized the company with James J. Brainard as president. After his death in 1953, his son James H. Brainard succeeded him, with his brother Walter M. Brainard taking the position of vice president. In 1981 ownership was purchased by Dave Grossman. On May 21, 1984 the flame at the Westmoreland Glass Company was finally extinguished. A lifespan of nearly a few years short of a century had ended.  The factory burned in 2012.

History of Glass Products:

The following is scripts from  a letter by J. H. Brainard, President of Westmoreland Glass:

Actually, glassware was the only real item manufactured, although early in the l900's many condiments, such as vinegar, mustard, baking powder, lemon flavor, etc. were processed here, but it is difficult to say whether such things were supplied in the containers for the purpose of selling the glassware or the condiment involved.

During World War I many glass items contained candy and were distributed by the News Stands and Dime stores throughout the country. Such diversification was not profitable because, as mentioned above, glass was the primary product of the Company. It was of high quality, manufactured by hand from the Pot Furnaces. Milk Glass, such as our Hens and other pieces illustrated in the current catalog, was probably the outstanding material produced, although in the 1920's we did make some high quality decorated ware and crystal. We still manufacture some decorated ware in addition to Colored Crystal such as Amber, Blue, Green, Pink and Brown. During the last thirty years, our manufacturing has been 90% Milk Glass, and the quality today is undoubtedly superior to that of years ago.

In the years following the Civil War, there were a number of Milk Glass producers in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area, and one of the outstanding plants was the Atterbury Company. They made high quality Milk Glass and our company came into it a year or so after they went out of existence. So, in a sense, we carried on where they left off.

During the depression in the 30's, our Company like many plants was badly hurt but we never stopped operations and re-organization took place in 1937 after the West financial interest became worthless and considerable investment was being risked by the Brainard interest. My father, James J. Brainard, who joined the Company in 1920 as treasurer, became President in 1937. I took over as treasurer after joining the Company in 1933 following graduation from Yale University.

My father's death occurred in 1953, and I became President of the Company shortly afterwards. My grandfather died in 1927.

Westmoreland Glass Company after fire

 

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