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Fenton Art Glass kicks off five-day event in honor of 100th anniversary

 

July 29, 2005

 

By JOLENE CRAIG

Parkersburg News, Parkersburg, WV


WILLIAMSTOWN - The five-day Fenton Centennial Celebration kicks off today with a tree planting ceremony.

"There are a lot of different things planned for everyone to do during the celebration," said Jim Measell, associate historian at Fenton Art Glass.
While Fenton Art Glass did not move into West Virginia until 1907, the family considers May 5, 1905, the day it began when Frank L. and John Fenton deposited $284.86 into a savings account in Wheeling as their first commitment to the company.

Fenton began as a glass decorating company before the brothers discovered the cost and other benefits of producing glass for themselves.

In 1907, the company moved into a factory in Williamstown, and the rest is history, Measell said.

Today, Fenton Art Glass remains a family business, including management by members of the fourth generation, and 500 employees.

There is no way of knowing how many people plan on attending the events that include a dinner cruise, live music and a live remote by the QVC shopping channel, said George Fenton when he addressed Williamstown City Council during the July 19 meeting.

"I think it is safe to say that there will be thousands of people coming through the Fenton Art Glass area between Friday afternoon and Tuesday evening," Measell said.

Fenton said, at last report, there are no hotel rooms left in Marietta and he has heard rumors of people coming from across the country and as far away as Australia.

"Employees of Fenton's have been telling people for the past year to make 2005 the year to visit Fenton Art Glass and I think the clubs and individuals listened to us," Measell said.

Measell said because of the large number of people, the company plans to be entertaining, special plans have been made for parking.

"The parking lots near the factory will be opened for the public and employees will be parking elsewhere and bussed to work," he said. "We have done our best to make sure as much parking is available as possible."

Fenton said the company has been working with local law enforcement, fire departments and city officials to close streets and plan areas for parking.

Starting July 28, Caroline Avenue was closed to set up tents, following that Elizabeth and Cherry streets were closed for more booths and tents, Fenton said.

"The Fenton Art Glass Factory parking lots will be open to the public and we have permission from Jeff Martin (owner of The Silos and Painter's Crossing) for more parking in his green area between the silos and West Virginia 14," Fenton said.

Measell said nearly 400 tickets have been sold for the QVC home shopping channel live remote broadcast from the Fenton Art Glass factory.

"With that number in attendance, I think there will be full tent," Measell said.

The QVC people and equipment will arrive at the location on Monday to set up and the broadcast will be on Tuesday at 10 a.m.

"QVC was here in 1997 and again in 1998 so we know how to work with them," Measell said. "It is a little like having the Super Bowl in town. We stay out of their way and provide the venue."

 

[PHOTO CAPTION ABOVE]

Joyce and Antonio Alvarez-Pedroso of Pittsburgh look over glassware at the Fenton tent sale in Williamstown. (Photo by Tony Kemp)

 

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Visitors to Fenton Art Glass will find a spacious Gift Shop and a pleasant museum. Free factory tours (M-F 8:15am to 4:00pm) take small groups of guests right out to the factory floor to see glassmaking "up close and personal." Friendly, knowledgeable tour guides explain all aspects of the operation. The Fenton tour has been ranked among the "top 10" factory tours nationwide by USA Today. In addition we have been named Rand McNally Best of the Road for 2006. For a factory tour schedule, click here. For a map, click here.

 

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