Heritage Farm donates glass furnaces to Blenko
A few months ago Audy Perry Jr., executive director of the Heritage Farm Foundation, wanted to create a partnership with Blenko Glass in Milton to benefit both entities.
"Several years ago my dad, A. Michael Perry, had acquired some very old furnaces from Pilgrim Glass, which went out of business in 2002," Perry explained.
"We got six pieces - four furnaces and two annealing kilns - and brought them to Heritage Farm Museum and Village. It was when the farm was getting its start. We began to use two of the furnaces and one of the annealing kilns for glassmaking demonstrations, but we were not using the other three pieces. I wanted to do something with Blenko Glass that would be good for both of us."
After some discussions, Perry agreed to donate two of the furnaces and one annealing kiln to Blenko Glass, and in return, the Milton glassmaking company would help design and develop a "History of Glass in West Virginia" exhibit at Heritage Farm.
"This is a win-win for both of us," Perry said. "They will be able to use these items, and we will get an interactive exhibit about glassmaking for both children and adults to go along with the furnaces and glassmaking items we have at the farm."
On Thursday, the furnaces and kiln were transported to Blenko Glass in Milton.
The design for the new Heritage Farm exhibit was created by Dean Six, vice president of marketing for Blenko Glass.
"The design is completed and it will show how important the glass industry was, and still is, to West Virginia and Cabell County," Six said. "There have been 473 glass factories in the history of West Virginia and this exhibit will mainly focus on some of those in our region."
There is no time frame on completion of the exhibit at Heritage Farm, but Six hopes it will be within the next few months.
"It will have some hands-on experience components for schoolchildren as well," he said. "We are hoping to get the project from the design phase to completion as soon as possible, but it will more than likely take a couple months."
Six added that the donated furnaces and annealing kiln will replace some of Blenko's ancient equipment.
"We are still using some of the first furnaces at Blenko Glass from the 1890s, so this is just another step forward in technology for us," Six said.
Six and Perry both said the partnership between the farm and the glassmaking company is a great example of cooperation in a small community.
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