Glassboro: A History

Glassboro: A History In the heart of Gloucester County is a little town known as Glassboro, receiving its name for no other reason than glass was manufactured there. Glassboro was established as "Glass Works in the Woods" in 1779 by Soloman Stanger. The sand in the area proved prefect to create glass, and the oak trees in the area were able to fuel the production. Glassboro's proximity to Philadelphia also made it an ideal location to be the heart of the Glass Industry in South Jersey and to allow the Glass Works to become a leader in the production of glass.

The Stanger Family was skilled in the art of glass blowing and created beautiful pieces. Unfortunately, with the devaluation of money during the American Revolutionary War, the Stangers had to sell their glass works to pay creditors. In 1781, Colonels Heston and Carpenter bought the glass works and renamed it the Heston-Carpenter Glass Works.

The Heston-Carpenter Glass Works was taken over by three sons of Bathsheba Heston and Ebenezer Whitney, who re-established the company as the Whitney Brothers Glass Works. The Whitney Brothers led the Glass works to prominence in the nineteenth and twentieth century glass industry, and helped Glassboro become one of the largest communities in Gloucester County, with a blacksmith, wheelwright, carpenter, shoemaker and mason. They were producers of many well-known historic flasks, such as the Indian Queen and Booz cabin design bottles. Thomas Whitney also built the historic Hollybush Mansion in 1847, which was originally for his own private use.

The Whitney Brothers Glass Works was succeeded by the Olive Works, The Harmony Glass Works, Temperanceville Glass Works, and the Owens-Bottle Machine Co/Owens-Illinois Glass Company. With the Depression, The Owens Bottle Company decided to shut down the bottle-works in Glassboro, which was by now the modern machine-making successor of the old hand-blown glass bottle industry. Today, the company still exists; their corporate name was changed in 1965 to Owens-Illinois, Inc to reflect their growth and the beginning of the company manufacturing plastic packaging. They are no longer based out of Glassboro, but are remembered for its importance in the start of "one the world's largest and most diversified manufacturers of glass and plastics packaging products."

Though the glass industry of Southern New Jersey is no longer prominent, it is a part of our rich history and shows our contribution to this country in the beginning of the twentieth century. South Jersey glass can be seen on display in many prominent American art museums and Early American glass collectors often seek glass that was produced in South Jersey.

The glass works of Glassboro not only played an important role in the glass industry, but also brought higher education to South Jersey. In 1916 The Hollybush Mansion and Estate built by Thomas Whitney was sold. A portion of the estate, along with the Mansion, was purchased with money raised by the residents of Glassboro. This property was offered to the State for free if they chose Glassboro to be the site of the Normal School. According to the Rowan University website, the Glassboro Normal School was dedicated to training South Jersey teachers and opened to 236 young female students and eventually extended its mission to being a comprehensive university (originally Glassboro State and now Rowan University) with six academic colleges, a graduate school and a College of Professional and Continuing Education. Rowan University serves students of New Jersey and beyond. Click here for more information.

The Hollybush Mansion was also the site of a Presidential summit during the cold war. In the Summer of 1967, a possible confrontation existed between the United States and the Soviet Union because both favored opposing sides in the Arab-Israeli Six-Day War. A meeting was needed between the leaders of the two countries and they needed a neutral location to have a Summit Conference. Glassboro State College was a perfect location because it was between New York and Washington. On June 23 and 25th President Lyndon Johnson and Soviet Premier Aleksei Kosygin met in the Library of the Hollybush Mansion to discuss how to avoid a nuclear war. The meeting was a success and the conflict ceased and their was a "promise of good future relations."

The History and Culture of Glassboro has been preserved at the Heritage Glass Museum in Glassboro. At the Museum, there are historic bottles, glass, and related items on display; museum staff also gives educational talks and can provide exhibits at other secure institutions such as schools, libraries, and colleges. The Museum is located on 25 High Street East. For more information, call 856-881-7468 or go to heritageglassmuseum.com.

© SouthJersey.com 2015. All rights reserved. This article or parts thereof may not be reprinted or reproduced by any other party without the express written consent of SouthJersey.com. For more information, please call 856-797-9910.

For more South Jersey History, visit our South Jersey History page.

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Author: Erin Pierson

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