A pop-up display will paint a clear picture of Wellsboro’s glass-making history – from Thomas Edison bulbs and radio tubes, to classic Shiny Brite Christmas ornaments and everything in between.
“The adornments are razzle glare. This is what we hope will attract people, but that they will understand and appreciate not only the history of glassmaking in Wellsboro, but also the importance of glass in general, ”said Clare Marie Ritter, President of Wellsboro Glass. Historical Association, a newly formed group dedicated to collecting and celebrating the city’s long history with glass.
The association is planning a pop-up museum-style exhibit at 80 Main St., Wellsboro. From May 28 through June, exhibits will be open 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Fridays and 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, with extended hours from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Memorial Day.
A limited number of visitors will be allowed in at a time, masks must be worn, a hand sanitizing station will be available, and volunteers will frequently wipe surfaces, Ritter said.
Putting together a pop-up museum is no easy task in such a short period of time, Ritter told 10 fellow volunteers at a planning meeting on Monday, May 3. erect windows, create billboards and information sheets, bring together volunteers to equip the pop-up and promote the company.
Hundreds of exhibits are on loan or have been donated, many from former employees of the now defunct Jackson Street factory. The factory opened as Wellsboro Glass Company in 1916, was acquired by Corning Glass Works and closed as Osram-Sylvania 2016.
“Our vision right now is to create exhibits in chronological order through history,” said Ritter, adding that the group is always accepting new donations of items related to glassmaking in Wellsboro. If you are interested, contact Ritter at [email protected]
“The cataloging team had their first meeting and it was a lot to record every item and who it was given to, but now we have a pretty good system,” said Anja Stam, recording secretary of the ‘association.
At Monday’s meeting, the group shared the success of their new Facebook page, which received over 1,000 reactions in about two weeks. The page, which will include group updates and historical information, is at www.facebook.com/Wellsboro-Glass-Historical-Association-104435921755219.
The association also has a new logo and newsletter in the works, coordinates video interviews with longtime local Corning and Osram employees, and is in the process of achieving its 501c3 designation as a nonprofit, a Ritter said.
Currently, donations for the work of the association can be mailed to the Wellsboro Foundation, 114 Main St., Wellsboro, PA 16901, with “Ribbon Machine” in the memo line.
“These are all steps towards a permanent home for the tape machines,” Ritter said, referring to the two 20-ton machines once used to make light bulbs and ornaments at the Wellsboro plant.
Skip Cavanaugh, associate president of the association who worked at the Wellsboro facility for 37 years, spent five months trying to get hold of the machines that ended up at a factory in Ledvance, Ky. He negotiated a loan. $ 61,000 with Growth Resources of Wellsboro, the borough economic development organization, to purchase and transport the machines to Wellsboro in June 2020.
While the machines are still in storage and won’t be part of the next pop-up, Ritter said she hopes the association will have permanent space to display the machines and its other artifacts over the next two years.
“It’s not at the moment,” she said. “It’s about 25 or 50 years from now. We are laying the groundwork for years to come so people can remember and celebrate the impact Wellsboro has had on the country.