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U.S. Senate recognizes 100 years of Fenton

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

By BRETT DUNLAP

The Parkersburg News, Parkersburg, WV
 


WASHINGTON - The U.S. Senate is recognizing a Williamstown company's 100 years of business and service to the community.

U.S. Sens. Robert C. Byrd and Jay Rockefeller, both D-W.Va., introduced a resolution last week congratulating Fenton Art Glass of Williamstown on its centennial anniversary.


"Fenton Glass is a trademark of West Virginia," Byrd said. "Across the country and around the world, people know Fenton's quality and character, and, through the remarkable works of art, people learn of West Virginia's quality and character as well."

The resolution, which was introduced to the Senate on Friday, recognized Fenton as a beloved institution in West Virginia that continues to contribute to the economic and cultural heritage of the state through its production of world renowned hand-blown glass.

"Fenton deserves this honor," Rockefeller said. "People all over the world know of the craftsmanship and beauty of Fenton glass.

"They appreciate the remarkable attention West Virginia craftsmen pay to the details of their products, and they appreciate the artistic vision underlying their work."

James Measell, Fenton Co. historian, said Monday the company is honored by the recognition.

"We are delighted the senators from West Virginia saw fit to sponsor a resolution to honor us," he said.

Fenton marked its founding on May 4 and held a celebration for the community and collectors July 29-Aug. 2.

The company's pieces will be featured on QVC throughout today as one of the final centennial celebration events.

The Senate resolution notes the great history of Fenton Art Glass, which was founded in 1905 by brothers Frank and John Fenton.

"Fenton Art Glass rose from its humble beginnings as a glass decorating company in 1905, and came to settle in Williamstown, West Virginia, by opening a factory to create their own glass when they were unable to obtain glass they needed," the resolution stated. "With the vision of brothers Frank and John Fenton, Fenton Art Glass began to create innovative new colors and established the company in the forefront of the hand-blown glass industry."

The document went on to note the company's history where in 1907 Fenton introduced its highly colorful Iridescent, or "Carnival" Glass, which became instantly successful throughout the country and is now highly prized by collectors around the world. Also, during the 1930s and 1940s, Fenton addressed the shortages felt by families in the United States by producing mixing bowls and tableware that were often unavailable during the World War I and Depression shortages.

"The first 100 years of Fenton Art Glass have been a grand journey, but those years are just the beginning chapters," Byrd said. "There is a great future ahead for Fenton, for Wood County, and for all of West Virginia, a future as beautiful as the works created by the artisans at Fenton."

The resolution noted Fenton Art Glass is not only a family tradition for the Fenton family, with the third generation of the Fenton family now carrying on the legacy, but also a West Virginia institution, employing generations of workers.

"Fenton Glass, known for its beauty and precision in craftsmanship, is a symbol of the dedication and care of the Fenton family, as well the pride in craftsmanship so characteristic of the West Virginia people," the resolution said.

Rockefeller said he believes Fenton will continue to be successful for years to come and will continue to be commemorated by future generations.

"I feel sure that one hundred years from now, some future Congress will pass a resolution honoring the bicentennial of this great West Virginia company," he said.

Contact Brett Dunlap at bdunlap@newsandsentinel.com

 

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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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