Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company (Mount Vernon, OH)

Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company (PPG)Mount Vernon, OH 
Opened 1907 – Shuttered 1976
Slated for demolition summer 2013

The former Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company’s Mount Vernon plant sits on seventy acres and opened in 1907 and was operated by PPG, or through one of its divisions, until 1976.

PPG Mt Vernon - 01You would never know driving by this site, or from the stripped exterior, the industrial significance of this building and its importance in Ohio history. The faded and barren exterior hides any symbols of its glorious and important industrial legacy.

Only the smokestack gives any hint.

The plant closed nearly thirty-seven years ago but upon opening, the Mount Vernon plant was PPG’s first rolling, or sheet glass, plant and one of the first in North America. It was a huge commercial success for the Pittsburgh based company, laying the foundation for refining the production technologies used in sheet glass production.

The plant opened on the leading edge of the automobile and construction booms of the 1910s and 1920s and combined with the Pittsburgh Process, which improved quality and sped glass production, PPG went on to become a dominant player in the world’s automotive glass industry.

PPG Mt Vernon - 15Today most of the beautiful plate-glass – and what is left of it – is covered with corrugated metal sheets or the window frames are filled in with cinderblocks. Every bit of steel, copper and aluminum with heft that could be cut off the perimeter of the building or dug out of the material yards is long gone for scrap.

Signage has been white-washed over or simply been allowed to fade away. 

PPG Mt Vernon - 11

However, on the inside, it is obvious this building is built to last. Solid brick walls divide production and furnace rooms. Blast doors subdivide sections of the building into work areas. Even the solid, hand-hewn hardwood timbers on the floors and joists stand-up over time.

They do not build buildings like this anymore.

PPG Mt Vernon - 16

Seriously…You would never build a building like this. Look at the arches on the side of this building or the walls or the timber or really any aspect of it’s construction. Even some local arsonists that tried to burn it down were foiled by the insular, brick heavy, subdivided construction. It is completely over engineered by modern construction standards.

Since the shuttering of the plant it has been owned by at least three companies and used as variations of public warehousing and storage. A simple enough procedure considering the two to three-foot thick solid brick firewalls and blast doors that subdivide the building.

Unfortunaelty, the most recent owner lost the ownership to the building in May, 2012. The city took legal possession of the building as a result of the owners inability to install sprinklers throughout the building. 

PPG Mt Vernon - 32In February, 2013 ownership of the building was then transferred to the non-profit Foundation Park Conservancy. With the most recent sale, current tenants have until June 30 to find new warehousing space. At some date afterwards this manufacturing landmark is slated to be demolished to make way for a park

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10 thoughts on “Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company (Mount Vernon, OH)

  1. I enjoyed this posting but wish there had been more information on the
    Penn Vernon process of vertical window glass production which was such an important part of Mt. Vernon, Ohio’s history. also the Hand Glass Cutter which was such a beautiful lost art .
    Thanks,
    Larry Daubenspeck, former PPG Glass Cutter

    1. Hi Larry. Thank you for the comment. If you would be interested I would like to talk with you a bit more about the topics you mentioned. Maybe write an article. I will be in town next week if you are free.

    2. Larry,
      If you worked at the Mt. Vernon plant, you may have known my granddad, “Whitey” Lambillotte and my Uncle Duane Lambillotte. They cut glass there for years. Granddad worked with my great-granddad at the Newark Glass Works before PPG.

      Gary Lambillotte

  2. My step father, Jiggs Henry, was a glass cutter at this plant. He started working there in about 1951 after he was laid off from a plant in the Pittsburgh, PA area. He was also the town’s Santa. While cutting a large sheet of glass it exploded and severed his windpipe. It was repaired but he was never the same after that. The glass cutting trade was passed down from father to son. At one point I had considered going into the trade. Bob Rock – thanks for pointing out this site to us. Larry Henry Rebich.

  3. Hi,

    You might want to stop by again or Chechen out the mount vernon news website. They’ve done some pretty awesome things, including putting a steel spiral staircase up the smoke stack.

  4. My father Jesse T Dice worked there starting at age 18 and retiring at age 62 , dad worked there for 44 plus years and it was the only job he ever had.
    Dad was an electrician for that period of time and if you look at the smokestack that is still standing , you will notice rods that are in the concrete on the north east side formimg a ladder up the side of the smokestack, dad had to climb up those to change light bulbs at the top of the smokestack !
    Dad was very proud to be employed at PPG and of the union .
    If you check out the clockhouse meuseum at The Ariel Foundation Park dad’s name is proudly displayed on his permament time card as Jesse ” JT ” Dice.

  5. Worked there in 1964-65 as a apprentice and then a master workman glass cutter. Later in 1967 while our window glass plant was on strike in Clarksburg WV. My dad Frank Duez cut glass there in 1950 and again in 1958. I have a vast collection of window glass factories photos and glass cutting tools. some made in Mt Vernon. I LIVED IN MT VERNON FOUR DIFFERENT TIMES. DICK DUEZ BRIDGEPORT WV.

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