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.
You 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.
Today 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.
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.
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.
In 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.