Glass industrys history celebrated in Brooke

WELLSBURG – The three buildings that comprise the former Brooke Glass factory will one day be gone, but its owner, the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle, is working with others to preserve the business' history. The economic development agency teamed Saturday with the Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center and staff and students at West Virginia University to hold an event involving interviews with past Brooke Glass employees and others and the creation of a mural designed to note the role the business once played in the community. The event was dubbed Brooke Glass Pickers, an allusion to television's “American Pickers,” with past Brooke Glass employees and others invited to bring items, photos and stories related to the 135-year-old factory on Sixth Street. Article Photos BROOKE GLASS REMEMBERED — David Cost, a Wellsburg native and collector of locally produced glass, provided photos of various glass ware produced by Brooke Glass and its predecessors, Riverside and Crescent, used in displays for the Brooke Glass Pickers event held near the former Wellsburg factory Saturday. — Warren Scott       The idea was suggested by Pat Kirby, executive director of the brownfields assistance center. The center and the BDC, led by Executive Director Pat Ford, have been working together to redevelop the factory's site. Citing the building's deteriorating condition, they have made plans to demolish it but not before they have secured a federal grant to remove hazardous materials there. They also have recruited professors and students at WVU to collect information about the 135-year-old factory, which also was home to Riverside Glass Works and the Crescent Glass Co., and interview former employees and others with ties to the business. Visitors of all ages were invited to paint two of three panels that will comprise a mural reflecting the factory's history. Austin Isinghood, the mural's designer, noted the idea of involving the public, including children, was suggested by the brownfields assistance center. So they could be painted easily by younger children, he used broad shapes to depict the factory, its workers, nearby railroad (now the site of the Yankee Trail), Ohio River and other elements. Isinghood will add a third panel, created and painted by himself, before the three are posted together at the factory's site. Norm Schwertfeger, chairman of the Brooke County Economic Development Authority, led tours of the factory during the day. BDC officials have donated glass samples, molds and other items involved in the glass-making process to the Brooke County Museum and Cultural Center, which has a room devoted to the city's many glass factories; and the Museum of American Glass in West Virginia. Dean Six, executive director of the state museum in Weston, said it has thousands of glass items produced by various Wellsburg factories including 2,100 oil lamps donated from North Carolina that were produced by Riverside. Riverside Glass Works began operations at the site in 1886. When the company folded in 1907, the factory was sold to Crescent Glass, which had operated at 29th and Yankee streets. Headed by Ellery Worthen and Henry Rithen Sr., the company became Brooke Glass in 1983 under Henry Rithen III before closing its doors in 2002. Riverside produced a variety of glass ware, while Crescent specialized in bar goods until Prohibition, when it shifted to red lantern globes, which led to it producing ruby taillights for Ford automobiles. David Cost, a Wellsburg native and avid glass collector, provided photos of some of the many Riverside, Crescent and Brooke Glass items he and his wife, Pam, both former members of the Brooke County Museum board, have accumulated. The items range from serving dishes shaped like cabbage leaves with lids “occupied&uot; by a small herd of rabbits to a lamp bearing the likenesses of the wives of three Riverside executives. Cost said the pair has found Riverside Glass items i