The Cambridge Glass Co. - How It Began

by Mark Nye
Issue No. 349 - May 2002

One hundred years ago this month, May 1902, the first commercial production of glass took place at the newly constructed Cambridge Glass Co. factory. In honor of that event, we are printing an updated version of an article that first appeared in the Crystal Ball > 12 years ago. It consists mainly of news items, that appeared in the local (Cambridge, Ohio) newspaper and in trade journals, outlining the construction and opening of the Cambridge factory. Unless otherwise stated, the cited reference is Crockery and Glass Journal abbreviated to CGJ.

"The National Glass Company has signed a contract with the citizens of Cambridge, Ohio, which calls for the erection at the town within a year of a model glass factory with a minimum capacity of three 16 pot furnaces. A $50,000 bond for fulfillment of this contract has been given by the National, and it is the intention to start work on the new plant at the earliest moment. The plant is to be ready to go into blast by July 1, 1901." Illus. Glass & Pottery World 1/1/1901

As we now know, the July 1901 start date for making glass didn't happen. By March 1901 that date had already been changed to January 1, 1902.

"The National Glass Co. during the past year have been reconstructing works destroyed by fire and building a large plant at Cambridge, Ohio. All will be completed by January 1, and they will then have a much larger producing capacity." CGJ 3/3/1901

"...The National's new Cambridge works have the foundations in and work on the three stacks will commence this week." 7/4/1901"...Their construction work at Cambridge is going on favorably. The foundations are all in, and Nichols and Matthew are putting in their furnaces and doing their glass house work. They will have three fourteen-pot furnaces." CGJ 7/18/1901

The furnace size decreased from the original proposed 16 pot furnaces to 14 pot ones, probably as an economical measure.

"The construction of the National Glass Co.'s Cambridge plant is progressing finely, and they are now ready for and awaiting some structural iron or steel. If they are not delayed on this material their plant will be completed by the first of October." CGJ 7/25/1901

By August, progress had fallen behind schedule as reflected in this statement.

"The National Glass Co.'s building projects at Cambridge, Ohio and Rochester, PA, are moving along rather slowly just now, owing to a delay in delivery of structural steel." CGJ 8/15/1901

"The National Glass Co. have topped out their three furnaces at Cambridge, and their structural iron having arrived, they are rapidly pushing the construction of this important plant..." CGJ 9/19/1901

"The National Glass Co. during the past year have been reconstructing works destroyed by fire and building a large plant at Cambridge, Ohio. All will be completed by Jan. 1..." CGJ 10/03/1901

"The National Glass Co. are now dismantling and removing the Central Glass Co.'s works at Summitville, Ind. The valuable machinery goes to Cambridge, Ohio." CGJ 10/17/1901

"Everything is reported to be moving smoothly at the National Glass Co....They incorporated their new plant as the Cambridge Glass Co. with a capital of $500,000, presumably on the plan of having a distinct works with a capitalization covering its value...The construction of the Cambridge plant is moving along vigorously, also the brick work of the Rochester is now going up. Both will be ready for operation by January 1." CGJ 10/31/1901

"The National Glass Co. reported business good at the numerous plants, and manufacturing moving along smoothly and efficiently. Building at Cambridge and Rochester is going along rather slowly, owing to failure in delivery of materials, and it is questionable whether they will have these plants fully ready to operate before late in January..." CGJ 11/14/1901

"Arthur J. Bennett, who for many years has been prominent in connection with B. F. Hunt & Sons <an import company> has resigned to accept the presidency of the Cambridge Glass Co., Cambridge, O., to which office he was elected last month. Mr. Bennett will make his home in Cambridge after January 1." CGJ 12/12/1901

"The Dalzell Gilmore plant at Findlay, Oh., was permanently shut down the past week. The valuable machinery will be moved to Cambridge, O. where the National is completing a large new plant. This is the second factory shut down to be removed to Cambridge...The Central at Summitville, Ind., have been previously closed." CGJ 12/12/1901

"The National Glass Co. has had fire on in its furnaces drying them out for some time. The full firing has been delayed because the second gas line is not yet laid. It is necessary to have two lines to provide against the main line breaking or becoming useless for any cause..." The Daily Jeffersonian 1/1/1902

"...Their Cambridge plant will be in operation sometime during the next month." CGJ 2/13/1902

"..The extreme cold has been unfavorable to the completion of their Rochester and Cambridge plants, but all the material is now on the ground, and it is to be hoped that no further delays will be experienced." CGJ 2/20/1902

"The National Glass Co.'s two important plants under construction were expected to be in operation this month sure...Their Cambridge plant has the building erected and the majority of the machinery installed. These two plants will add eight large furnaces to the National's capacity. They are being constructed in the most approved manner and will have the best equipment extant." CGJ 2/27/1902

"Arthur J. Bennett, who left New York to take the presidency of the Cambridge Glass Co., Cambridge, O., says that there is every prospect that the factory will be making glass early next month. Severe weather and the difficulty in obtaining building material retarded progress, but now everything seems to be going ahead. He says the factory is about as near perfect as can be, and with natural gas and good shipping facilities they will be able to hold their own with any of the other factories." CGJ 3/20/1902

"The Cambridge plant of the National Glass Co., it is now announced by the managers, will be completed and making glass on May 1. It will make general lines of glassware, tumblers, tableware, etc. It is a three furnace plant and one of the most complete extant." CGJ 4/10/1902

"Thos. G. Edge, who will handle in this market (New York City) the product of the Cambridge Glass Co., has just received their catalogue. It contains 140 pages of cuts, which include about everything that is made in table glass. It is expected that in another week the factory will be turning out glass." CGJ 4/27/1902

"The Cambridge Glass Works, a model three furnace plant with every modern improvement commenced making glass this week." CGJ 5/8/1902

It was May 6, 1902, as reported in the local newspaper, when production began at the Cambridge factory.

"...Operations began last Tuesday. At present only one stack is in operation. and another will be started in three weeks... Each of these stacks is about one hundred feet high and in each are what is known as fourteen pots. At the present on the one stack now in operation sixty-four people are at work of whom perhaps thirty are skilled workmen...About one hundred people are now on the pay roll and when it is on in full, the number employed will be five hundred." The Daily Jeffersonian 5/13/1902

"Owing to the fact that so many people have applied for permission to inspect that Cambridge Glass plant, President Bennett and Manager McClure have decided to set apart two days to give all an opportunity that wish, to inspect the factory. These two days will be Wednesday and Thursday of this week (May 14 & May 15, 1902) when all visitors will be welcomed. The plant will be in operation these days." The Daily Jeffersonian 5/13/1902

"Thos. G. Edge has received his first lot of samples from the Cambridge (Ohio) Glass Co. The ware is very good, and for a first output from a new factory is far above the average of glass from a new factory. When everything is in smooth working order they will hold their own with any of the factories." 5/22/1902

"The National Glass Co. has accepted the buildings erected by Messrs. Burt and Bodine for the Cambridge Glass plant and has released the contractors. The contractors bond of $10,000 has also been surrendered." The Daily Jeffersonian 5/24/1902

A series of articles published in the August through December 1996 issues of the Crystal Ball covered the major patterns issued during the early years of the Cambridge Glass Co.