GILLINDER GLASS FACTORY
Gillinder Glass first opened its' doors in Port Jervis back in 1913 and has been in operation ever since. Their products and clientele have varied over the years, but Gillinder has remained dedicated to providing high quality specialty glass products. Today, Gillinder plays an important role in the production of airport runway lights and aircraft lights among other specialty glass. Charlie and Allyson Gillinder were willing to sit down with us and explain the evolution of the factory and give us a quick glimpse into the process of making their products.
INTERVIEW WITH ALLYSON GILLINDER:
Can you provide a brief history of Gillinder Glass?
William T. Gillinder started Gillinder Glass in Philadelphia in 1861. In 1876, Gillinder built an operating glass plant in the nation’s Centennial Exhibition, a major component of the first World’s Fair held in the United States (in Philadelphia). This glass plant, visited by a large portion of the 10 million visitors (about 20% of the population of the United States at the time) was an instant success and launched the popular trend of acquiring and collecting Gillinder glass. It is reported that over 100,000 glass slippers were sold as souvenirs of the fair. Today, a reproduction of those slippers are still made at Gillinder Glass and sold in the store.
In 1912, three grandsons of William T. purchased a glass plant in Port Jervis, formerly known as the Orange County Flint Glass Works. The plant opened as Gillinder Brothers in January 1913 and continues today under the leadership of Charles Gillinder, who is William T’s great-great-great grandson.
How did Gillinder end up in Port Jervis, NY?
Gillinder Glass ended up in Port Jervis NY in 1912. Port Jervis, an up and coming town/city, was the place to be in that time period, and with an available glass factory, formerly Orange County Flint Glassworks and the railroad right behind the building, it was the perfect location for a glass company.
What types of products has Gillinder made over the years?
Gillinder started out making utilitarian tableware and other decorative pieces in the 1860’s, graduated to lighting fixtures (shades & globes) in the 1900’s, and today a large percentage of our business is lenses and domes for airport runways, aircraft, aviation, military, landscape, pool, spa, theater, architectural, marine. Much of today’s lenses and domes are designed for LED technology.
What do the tours consist of and when do they take place?
The guided factory tours, which last 30-45 minutes, begin in the gift store with a brief history of the company, where you will see items that we produced in the 1800’s and 1900’s. From there we move into the “finishing” department, where you will be introduced to the ingredients and tools for making glass, as well as current items that we manufacture. Here we will explain the process of making glass. Finally, we move into the “hot end” of the factory where you will observe the glassworkers making glass lenses and domes by gathering, pouring and pressing glass into molds. Our lenses and domes are shipped worldwide. Our factory tours are scheduled Monday-Friday at 10:15, 12:30 and 1:30. Since the tours are scheduled around the workers’ schedules and store staffing, it is always a good idea to call ahead for availability. Six or seven days a year we have special glassblowing demonstrations; check our website for these special dates.
What can people expect at the Gillinder Glass store and what are the hours?
Gillinder Glass Store is open 7 days a week; Monday-Friday 9:30-5:30, Saturday 9:30-4:00, Sunday 12:00-4:00.
The items in our gift store are unique; many pieces are one of a kind, and most everything is made of glass. About 50% of the items in the gift store is made by us or our visiting guest artists. The other 50% is made by other local, regional American and Canadian artists in their own studios. 100% of our items are handmade, one at a time, not mass produced and not imported. We have a wide variety of price points, starting at $1.95 for Gillinder made “Kids’ Koins” to $400.00 tables and lamps, and everything in between! And our customer service is second to none!