Beneath Lincoln's Ass they used to load a lot of glass.
Unknown to most Washingtonians and other Americans and particularity we few in the glass collecting community located literally right underneath the Lincoln Memorial was a thriving glass works started in 1807 it rivaled the Boston Crown glass works in size and output at the time and supplied a lot of the glass windows in the city of Washington. The name, "Old Glass-House," to an old-time Washingtonian, meant not only an old factory where glass was made, but it also comprehended the settlement that grew up in the vicinity of that factory. This factory and settlement were in the Southwestern part of Washington City.To be more explicit, the factory was at the southeast corner of Twenty-second and Water streets, northwest; and the Glass-House settlement covered the space between Twenty-first and Twenty-third streets northwest, and New York avenue and the Potomac river, and occupied part of the old village of Hamburg or Funkstown, which extended from about the location of Nineteenth street to that of Twenty-third street, west, and from about the location of H street, northwest, to the Potomac River. In easier terms to understand the location of the large factory site was just north of the current location of the Lincoln Memorial monument. Below is a map from 1800 showing the area where the glass works were located.
The glass house is in red, the yellow area is the wharf which extended outward into the Potomac,and to the right of this area is the future site of the Washington Memorial.The blue square to the left of the yellow wharf would become the Lincoln Memorial on May 20th 1922.
The same area today in 2014. Notice how much ground was added at the current site of the Lincoln Memorial extending eastward all the way to the Washington Monument. The glass Factory would have been located inside of the red box outline north of the Lincoln Memorial. The broken green lines represent where the banks of the Potomac river once were located. None of the National Mall west of the Washington Monument grounds and below Constitution Avenue NW existed prior to 1882. Terrible flooding inundated much of downtown Washington, D.C. bringing raw sewage right to the white house and the Capital in 1881. Congress then ordered the Army Corps of Engineers to dredge a deep channel in the Potomac and use the material to narrow the river and fill in the Potomac rivers eastern shoreline (creating the current banks of the river) and raise much of the land near the White House and along Pennsylvania Avenue NW by nearly 6 feet (1.8 m). This "reclaimed land" which included West Potomac Park, East Potomac Park, and the Tidal Basin was largely complete by 1890, and designated Potomac Park by Congress in 1897. Congress first appropriated money for the beautification of the reclaimed land in 1902, which led to the planting of sod, bushes, and trees; grading and paving of sidewalks, bridle paths, and driveways; and the installation of water, drainage, and sewage pipes.
The following are sketches of the glass factory Below is a drawing looking West towards Arlington Virginia showing the entire village in about the year 1820 From the records of the Columbia Historical Society.
An idea as to the quantity of glass manufactured at the Old Glass-House can be had from the fact that during one season, as related by Mr. Schneider, when the demand for the product did not come to expectations,the storage accommodations of the works were taxed to their utmost capacity, and the large old stone warehouse at G Street wharf was rented, and was packed with glass from cellar to roof. Suddenly orders began to pour in, and in a short time the whole stock was sold. An estimate of the financial size of the business may be made from the fact that during one season of nine months the profits amounted to $30,000, though it is probable that such seasons were rare.
Across from the factory on the north side of Water Street, was a row of six broad two-storied-and-attic brick dwellings, called "Glass-House Row." There was another row, back in the same square called ' ' Glass Blowers Row," but it does not appear to have belonged to the Messrs. Way. Most of the other houses in the settlement were frames. A row of fine Lombard}^ poplar trees extended along Water Street, and other fine trees were frequent in the settlement. When business was brisk, about 100 hands, men and boys (at one time 125) were employed, most, if not all, of whom lived in the settlement. The good wages received enabled the workmen to live comfortably and well. They took pleasure and pride in their cottages, improved them with porches and verandas, and covered and surrounded them with vines, flowers and trees. It is astonishing how well their houses and tables were furnished in those primitive times.
The colored people who lived there had the same pride in their homes. One old couple named Tasker, who lived near Mr. August Schneider's shop on New York Avenue, had their cottage completely covered with an immense multiflora running-rose, and their home was a marvel of neatness and cleanliness, within and without. Many of the families owned slaves but were much attached to them. Aunt Frances used to relate how, when a little girl, she was once on the wharf fishing in company with her father's little slave girl. The little negress fell overboard, and her young mistress risked her own life by reaching down and grabbing her by the wool and holding her head above water until help came. And during the cholera epidemic in 1832 an old colored workman at the factory was the first one stricken in that neighborhood; and his white fellow workmen went to work on him, rubbing him with "No. 6" liniment until they almost flayed him and their own hands, but saved his life.
Some of the superintendents of the works were Mr. Jewett, Mr. McLean and Mr. Stinger. Mr. Stinger lived in ' ' Glass House Row. ' ' Among the foreman and skilled workmen were the Knoblochs, father and son, Mr. Brower, father of Mrs. John Krafft and Mrs. George Krafft, and Mr. Hartman. Among the other workmen and residents at different times were Messrs. Gabler, Miller, Reddick, James Hall, Patten, Leake, Adam Knott, Grinder, Henry Parker, Pfister, Thos. Bingy, two families of Taylors, a family of Johnsons, Mr. August Schneider, from whom are descended the foundrymen, hardware men, and the builder of that name, the Reitz family, who afterwards lived on the north side of E street just east of Fourteenth street, and the Fillius family, who afterwards built on Pennsylvania avenue between Tenth and Eleventh streets, but resided in the country. Mr. John Taylor lived on the south side of Water street between Twenty-second and Twenty-third streets in square 63, near Mr. Easby's limekilns; and Mr. Johnson lived directly opposite, in square 62. On the west side of Twenty-second street, between Water and C streets, in square 62, lived Messrs. Eckhart, a butcher, Beatley, Ratry, Lucas, Smith and Hutcherson. Mr. Pfister lived on the west side of Twenty second street, between New York avenue and D street. Mr. Lackey had a truck-garden on the west side of Twenty-second street, between D and E streets, in Square 61, where Mr. Fuller afterwards lived. Mr. Fuller's house is still, 1914, standing.
On the east side of Twenty-second street, north of New York avenue [in Square 84] was the cozy and well furnished cottage of Miss Betsey Massie, the aunt and foster-mother of Miss Mary E. Settle, who married a Mr. Rodier, and after his death, in a gunning accident, was for many years a teaching in the public schools of Washington, and is affectionately remembered by a great many of her pupils. Mr. Lackey had her educated with his own daughter at the best schools here. Mr. August Schneider and family lived on the north side of New York avenue between Twenty-first and Twenty-second streets, in Square 84. He kept a general store, and out in the middle of the street, opposite his house, he had a blacksmith shop. He used to make and repair tools for the Glass-Works. One of his sons, Frederich Schneider, Sr., the retired foundryman, and widely known as the collector of an extensive library of rare and valuable books, worked, while a very young man, in the old blacksmith shop of his father, and remembered once making iron shoe-soles for the colored man who mixed the material at the factory, to keep his feet from getting burnt by the potash. He also referred with professional pride to having once lengthened the barrel of a huge ducking-gun for Mr. Cumberland, soldering the splice on with copper, to the increased destruction of the ducks and the great satisfaction of Mr. Cumberland.
On Twenty-first street, between C street and New York avenue, in Square 87 or East-of-87, were the residences of Messrs. Davis, Beadle, Franke, Cumberland and Duff. After Mr. Frank's death, his widow supported herself by cultivating a large truck-garden. Mr. Duff was a well-digger from Alexandria. Before he finally settled in Washington, he would bring a tent and establish a camp wherever he dug a well. The Smiths, who lived back west from Twenty-second street, between B and C streets, in square 62, were mulattoes and natives of the West Indies. They were very thrifty. The kept boats that plied on the Potomac, and lived as nicely and comfortably as anybody else, and owned slaves. They were members of St. John's Church, Washington, where they used to sit in the gallery, and were very devout. Aunt Frances remembered that some of them died of consumption, and that their deaths were "beautifully triumphant and happy."
Another highly respected colored family was the Blacksons, who were slaves of the Hartman family. One of its decendants was employed at the White House in the "eighties." The Glass-House people did most of their shopping in Georgetown, going and returning across the commons. In the first part of the century their most direct route led them across a large single-arch stone bridge that spanned Rock Creek at K street. It was built prior to the year 1800, as it is represented in an engraving of that year. Its arch is said to have contained one stone for each of the original thirteen states, and its builders must have considered it a very substantial structure, for they carved on its keystone "May the Union last as long as this bridge." It has lasted a great many years longer. Some of the Glass-House children, in going to school, became long-distance pedestrians. Some went to a Mr, Haskell, near St. John's Church, Washington; and others to a Mr. Tippett on the Navy Yard, and the path there was not a straight one.
Of course the pleasures of the place were few and simple. The chief amusements of the men were gunning, boating, fishing, coasting and skating. Fish were plentiful and wholesome, and canvas-back ducks were as numerous as blackbirds, perhaps more so. Old residents related that sometimes they would be resting and feeding on the river by the thousands. Christmas was made a great holiday, as might be expected from people who came from countries where it is so heartily and joyously observed. And in this connection there is an amusing anecdote that is worthy of preservation.
There was a superstition among the people of the community that the devil would get after any one who worked on Christmas day. Mr. John Knobloch, a very original character and a general favorite, but who had not the fear of the devil before his eyes, imperiled his safety one Christmas morning by going to work in the box-shop. He had not been working long when he heard three mysterious taps, several times repeated, and when he at last located them in a large pile of shavings, the horns and head of the enemy of souls appeared to emerge therefrom, whereupon John Knobloch quickly emerged from the room. He speedily returned, however, with his gun, and with the laudable purpose of exterminating the devil. When he re-entered the room, Satan was there in full size and shape, and in conventional attire, tail, hair and horns. But when he saw Jolm's gun, he made for the opposite door and closed it behind him just as a load of shot struck it. A moment later and Mr. Grinder would have paid for his joke with his life.
Washington City offered very fair amusements in those days, but it was a long, dark way home to any Glass-House people who went to the theatre or any other place of evening amusement. One local funmaker who distinguished himself for some years, along about 1825 to 1830, was a young man named Frank Boyle, who had a fools-cap-and-bells, and would sometimes come over to the Glass-House from his home on the western slope of Camp Hill, the site is now covered by Heurich's Brewery, and amuse the natives with his pranks and antics. Parties of ladies and gentlemen sometimes came over to the factory from other sections of the city, and the blowers would make curious toys of glass for them called singing-bottles, flip-flops, etc.
There was no church in the settlement, but the people attended service in the more favored parts of the city. Dr. Hawley, while rector of St. John's Church, Washington, sometimes held evening meetings at Mr. Knobloch's, and in later years Dr. Noble, of the Presbyterian Church, had prayer-meetings at Mr. Johnson's. On pleasant Sabbath afternoons in summer, when there were candidates for baptism, Eev. Obadiah Brown, while pastor of Nineteenth Street Baptist Church (then white), and at the same time Postmaster General, would bring a portable pulpit and set it up at Big Rock, as some called it, or Braddock's Rock, as others then called it and some still call it. It was at the foot of Camp Hill, a short distance west of the ' ' Old Glass- House." At that time the rock was still intact and jutted far out into the river like a natural wharf, whence one of its names was ''Key of All Keys" or "Quay of All Quays." There Parson Brown would preach to the large multitude who always assembled on such occasions, and sat, as they listened, on the grassy slopes of Camp Hill. Then he would go down into the water and baptize the converts, while the peaceful Sabbath air rang with songs of praise.
Aunt Frances used to say that, as she looked back to those scenes, they made her think of Apostolic times. One of the most delightful pleasures of the Glass- House people, with other Washingtonians , was their picnics across the river at Custis's Spring, going and returning in large rowboats and flatboats. We have no such picnic grounds now as our forebears enjoyed on the shore at Arlington under the huge trees that stood, a great forest, around the great spring. But the chief charm of the place was Mr. Custis's unaffected hospitality and sociability. He loved to have the people come and enjoy themselves, and he built a large pavilion near the spring for their use. He would spend a large part of the day with them, and would join heartily in their conversation and amusements. He played the violin by the hour for the young folks to dance, and would relate anecdotes about General Washington, who was his step-grandfather, to an ever-increasing circle of listeners, often stripping the pavilion of its dancers, as few cared to miss a story of our greatest hero from so attractive, instructive and authentic a story-teller. He always brought an old manservant with him to the picnic grounds to help with the cooking and in waiting on the tables. On one occasion he brought a large silver platter and loaned it to the ladies, telling them , that it once belonged to the great Washington.
In this drawing Arlington Virginia is in the back ground. In present day you are viewing the glass works from the Washington mall. Just to the left of the Schooner is where the Lincoln Memorial would be located.
The factory buildings extended quite a distance along Water street. At the east end was the blowing room, a barn-like brick structure with broad blind arches in the walls.There was no chimney to the blowing-room, but a large cupola in the roof served as an outlet for the smoke and gases ; and a small hand-engine was always standing ready to extinguish any blaze in the roof from stray sparks. In the blowing-room were the furnaces for melting the materials, and there were platforms for ten blowers, so Mr. Schneider has informed us. To the west from the blowing-room extended the flattening-house,the cutting-room, the pot-room, the mixing-room, and the box-shop, all built of brick. Outside, next to the wharf, was a large wood-yard. Boschke's map of Washington (1857) shows the ground plan of the works. Window glass was the main product produced here but hollow ware was also blown for the locals and for a large brewery for over thirty years with the last 10 being tenuous.
The sketch below is of the Washington City Glass Works looking south southwest towards the Potomac River. From the records of the Columbia Historical Society.
Notice the small buildings on the hill in Arlington Virginia to the right of the main roof. This is the Robert E Lee Mansion in Arlington Cemetery today. In 1810 this was the Custis Mansion George Washington's Wife Martha's Family.
Below is the August Schneider Black smith shop and farm located on New York Avenue between 21st and 22nd Streets N.W. in about the year 1820. This was a drawing made about 1892 by Miss Little based on the recollection of Mr. Frederick Schneider
Below is The Boyle Homestead on the western slope of Camp Hill near the Observatory. The walls were coated with grey pebbled ash from the glass factory. This sketch was made from the observatory Grounds in the year 1880 by Mr. C A Harkness.
The settlement was principally the natural growth around what was considered in those days a large and flourishing glass-factory, situated on the river-bank between Twenty-first and Twenty-second streets, northwest, and which was started about the year 1807 by a firm composed of Andrew Way, Jr., George Way, Jacob Curts, Horace H. Edwards and the practical glass maker and superintendent of the works Solomon Stanger,( A member of the famous Stanger glass making family ) who in that year (according to deed dated May 12, 1807, and recorded in Liber M 17 at folio 315 of the District of Columbia Land Records bought a piece of land in Square 89, fronting 1691 feet on Water street and extending southward to the Potomac ; and on the river side of which was a wharf fronting out 130 feet on the river, and extending about 200 feet south from Water street, and called the ''Commissioners Wharf ' ' on the old plates, with a depth of about eight feet of water at mean tide. By the year 1809 Andrew and George Way had bought out the interests of the other owners, and in 1813 they had increased their acquisitions to the east and west of the works until their property extended 3211/2 feet along Water street, a large part of it covered by water, it is true, but very valuable to them for the extension of their works and wharves.
The following ads were placed in Newspapers around the country.
This first ad is from 1809 and lists WINDOW GLASS of various sizes. In 1809 the Company is called Edwards,Way & Company.
The ad below is from 1810. The company is now in full possession of the Way Family
Below is a jar that was made for the Schneider Family in 1825. From the records of the Columbia Historical Society.
The following pieces of glass were found on the shore of the Potomac river just south of the Glass works site.I acquired these pieces from a gentleman who lives in Georgetown who found them as a boy around 1925.The one piece is a large hunk of slag bright aqua in color the other is more green in color and is clearly a window glass piece in which diamond score cutting marks are clearly seen.
The Glass Works were put up for sale in 1819 I give this advertisement in full chiefly because it shows how enterprising the Messrs. Way were, and what good jiulgment they had in the selection of real estate. Whether the properties mentioned, other than the Glass-Works, were purchased with profits from the glass business, I cannot say; nor to what extent they were encumbered. No sale of the Glass-Works appears to have resulted from this advertisement, for two years afterward a deed of trust on the Glass-House property was given on the 29th March, 1821, Liber 50 folio 386, by Andrew Way, Andrew Way, Jr., and the Executors of George Way ; and another on the 5th of October, 1821, Liber 52 folio 65, by the same parties. (From which deeds of trust it appears, incidentally, that Mr. George Way had died.)
From the National Intelligencer of May 30, 1822, it appears that the works shut down in August, 1819, and resumed operations in October, 1820. Their career was a checkered one, marked by occasional lapses into inactivity. It would be impossible to trace accurately and fully the business history of the works, because everybody familiar with it has been long since dead, and the books are lost or destroyed. But from the scant information now existing, the history of the factory appears, in addition to what has been already stated, to be as follows :
The Messrs. Way were very enterprising, and, for about nine years, very successful. Their works grew and flourished, and they accumulated property in other parts of the city; and, besides the property already mentioned, they owned a mill on Cabin John Creek. But they must have overreached themselves. And the tide of business seems to have turned away from them. In 1821, about thirteen years after the inception of the enterprise, their liabilities appear to have been about $25,000, secured by the Glass-Works and the property at Ninth and Pennsylvania avenue and Ninth and D streets, northwest. But, notwithstanding this incumbrance, the business was continued under the proprietorship of Mr. Andrew Way and his brother's legal representatives until 1829, when they failed and were sold out by Richard Smith, Trustee, to the Bank of the United States — Liber 78, folio 201
Apparently no buyers were found because Way & Company continued to own the works up until 1828 when they finally found a buyer in Cornelius McLean who would operate the works until the early spring of 1831 when he was forced to lose the works at auction.The following ad was placed in various newspapers around the country. "The Proprietor, Cornelius McLean, Sr., respectfully offers to dealers in Glass, and the public generally, from four to five thousand half boxes of Window Glass, assorted from 7 by 9 to 24 by 30, of a superior quality and thickness, and will be ready to deliver to those at a distance as soon as the navigation opens. Any orders to the proprietor, left at his dwelling, or at the Glass- Works, will be promptly executed.'" Mr. McLean must have been operating under some arrangement with the Bank of the United States, for his name does not appear on the Land Records as grantee or lessee of the works.
On the 24th day of July, 1833, Liber 97, folio 232, of the District of Columbia Land Records, the Bank of the United States conveyed to the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Company part of the lots occupied by the Glass- House — a broad strip running in an easterly and westerly direction and lying south of the works. This would seem to have been a severe blow to the factory, as it cut it off from the Potomac River ; but when it is remembered that the water at the wharf had been reduced to two feet in depth by the shoaling of the bottom of the river, it will be seen that the advent of the canal was a fortunate event for the works, as it afforded unobstructed access for its river-boats to its very door, and opened an easy market for its glass in the large territory traversed by the canal and upper Potomac as far as Cumberland. Mr. Frederick Schneider, Sr., stated to me that some of the best paying seasons occurred about this time. Mr. Andrew Way appears to have been manager of the business for some time after the failure.
On the same day as the conveyance above mentioned to the canal company, the Bank of the United States conveyed (Liber 114, folio 391) the Glass-Works to Commodore John Rodgers, one of the Naval heroes of 1812, for a consideration of $10,697. Commodore Eodgers devised it to his wife, Mrs. Minerva Rodgers, and she owned it until September 25, 1851, when she sold it to Charles L. Coltman by deed recorded in Liber 251, folio 521.
No buyers were found in 1831 or the following three years as the works were dormant. A buyer was eventually found and the Glass Works changed hands again as Lewis Johnson and Company bought the factory in 1835. Lewis was related to the Governor Johnson who owned the Johnson Farm Glass Factory in Frederick Maryland 1n 1800.How long Mr. McLean continued the business is not known, but on July 9, 1835, appeared the following advertisement in the National Intelligencer:
''Washington City Glass Works."
Lewis Johnson & Co. must have rented the premises, as there is no deed or lease to them of record. Associated with Mr. Johnson was Major Truman Cross, afterwards killed in the Mexican War. Their success does not seem to have been equal to their expectations, and they appear to have surrendered the works after running them about three years. Mr. Lewis Johnson Davis, grandson of Mr. Lewis Johnson, thought that Lewis Johnson & Co. carried on the business at the *'01d Glass-House" until the time of the Mexican War. Mr. Davis also informed me that he did not know what had become of the books of the business. Lewis Johnson would maintain the ownership right up until 1838 as evidenced by the ad placed below by the superintendent of the works Francis Stinger (another in a long line of the Stenger, Stanger and Stinger glass family originally from France and Germany in the 1500s and Wistarburgh in Southern New Jersey in 1765. The original family name was Stenger,which adapted to Stanger and then a little later to Stinger.
In 1842, in a book on Washington City, Mr. George Watterson stated that "Among the factories which have been established in this city are two, a Glass House and a Brewery, which have been in existence for some years, and are in a flourishing condition. The window glass made at the former is superior to most glass made in this country, and is held by glaziers and others in high estimation. "The factory has been erected near the Potomac for the convenience of water and stands near a wharf where, fifty years ago [this would be about 1792] ships of considerable burden were accustomed to anchor. "The depth of water in the river at that point was not more than two feet before the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal was excavated. The channel has been filled by the deposits of sediment brought down by the river and a new one is forming on the Virginia side."
Mr. Frederick Schneider, Sr., was quite positive that the works continued in operation down to the time of the Mexican War. This would make the period of the existence of the enterprise as a glass-factory about thirty-eight years. Whether the old works were used for any purpose from the time of the Mexican War to the year 1859 cannot now be ascertained, but in the latter year Mr. Coltman leased them to H. C. Wilson & Co. (representing Philadelphia parties) who for six or eight years manufactured lampblack and roofing cement there. Then for a short time some one had a fertilizer factory there ; and that was the last manufacturing business done in the old buildings. Every vestige of the old factory has been gone for twenty-five years at least.
Circumstances seemed to have entered into a deep dark conspiracy to render the neighborhood undesirable for residence and business purposes. First and foremost was the Long-Bridge causeway, built during President Jackson's time, which caused tlie wliole water-front of Washington City to become shallow. And more directly affecting the water-front at the Glass-House, was the extension of the wharf at Easby's Point out into the Potomac, deflecting the current from the north shore. Then came the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Company that ruthlessly blasted away nearly all of the "Key of all Keys" (the so-called ''Braddock's Eock") and extended its waterway right through the Commissioner's, or Glass-House, Wharf, and carried the said waterway, on a mole, across the mouth of the small creek that drained the valley directly east of the Glass-House settlement ; and, although they provided for the drainage of this valley by means of a culvert underneath the canal and mole, yet the arrangement worked so poorly that before many years, that little valley had a chain of shallow ponds extending through it from 17th and D streets, northwest, to the foot of 21st street, northwest, prolific breeding places of malaria and mosquitoes; although, to do them justice, these ponds afforded some sport to gunners in summer, and to skaters in winter.
Also contributing to the same disastrous end, the destruction of the forests on the upper Potomac in clearing land for the purpose of farming, caused a vast quantity of earth to be washed into the river, much of which settled on the bottom of the stream opposite the city, thus verj^ rapidly making it shoal. At the beginning of the Civil War, the old Glass- House settlement was but a shadow of its former self and but little business of any kind, including the lamp black and roofing cement business, was done there. Some people named Coleman had a brush factory on the north side of C street, between 21st and 22nd streets, for a few years before that time, but they moved their business to the southeast corner of Pennsylvania avenue and 10th street, northwest. During the Civil War the neighborhood was very lively. There was a corral for horses at 22nd and E streets, and scattered over the commons were several camps for wagon-trains. There is now a carpet-cleaning establishment on 23rd street just north of Water street.
Such is the history of the Old Glass-House factory and settlement, and the causes of their decline as far as I have been able to ascertain. I do not believe that I have uncovered all the reasons for the decline and extinction of the factory, and for the decadence of the settlement. The glass business has succeeded elsewhere. Why could it not have continued to prosper here! If the location at the foot of 22nd street became unsuitable, why did not the proprietors or others select some other eligible location and establish the business there? Other businesses, the products of which are in no more demand than that of the glass business, have succeeded here. There must have been some cause or causes other than those I have assigned, such as competition, for instance.
I have been informed recently that one of the causes that led to the failure of the works was the difficulty in obtaining suitable sand in sufficient quantity; and that the proprietors of St. George's Island, where the sand had been obtained, stopped the shipment from that place as it threatened to eventually reduce the area of the island. I was referred to our Mr. Hugh T. Taggart for information on the subject, but when I wrote to him requesting an interview, his son answered that Mr. Taggart was too ill to converse at length on any subject; and he died soon afterward. The original draft of this history was published in the Evening Star in 1892.
It may have been only a coincidence, but in 1894, only two years afterwards, the Virginia Glass Works were inaugurated at Alexandria, Va,, and are now capitalized at $20,000. In the same city, in 1902, the Old Dominion Glass Works were started, and are now capitalized at $60,000; in 1903, in the same city, the Belle Pre Glass Works were started, and are now capitalized at $100,000 ; and in 1904 or 1905, in the same city the Alexandria Glass Works were started and are now capitalized at $30,000. As a matter of fact, there was an effort to revive the glass business here about the year 1870, when Mr. John Purdy, who had amassed a fortune in the painting and paint and glazing business, put up a large structure on the Washington side of Rock Creek southeast of P street bridge, and there established a glass manufacturing business known as the Washington Glass-Works. It was on Lot 3 and part of Lot 4 in Square 23, on the west side of 24th street between N street and Rock Creek.
But Mr. Purdy was then very old and his health was failing; and owing to his lack of ability to give the business personal and intelligent attention, it failed. I do not recollect that it lasted much longer than a year. Mr. Purdy gave a deed of trust on the premises August 22, 1871, Liber 666, folio 232. He assigned, in a conversation with my brother, as the causes of his failure, the intemperance of his workmen, the refusal of his fellow-citizens to patronize him, and the competition of outside factories, particularly those in Baltimore. I am kindly informed by the Fire Department that the building was afterwards converted into a soap factory, conducted by Messrs. Memmert and Korf, and was destroyed by fire September 7, 1888, the loss being estimated at $6,000.
In recent years a transformation has taken place on the river front near the 'Old Glass House." Potomac Park has been created and now extends from Water Street to the Georgetown channel of the Potomac, and includes the site of the Old Glass-Works* and the bed of the canal, no appearance or suggestion of which latter is now in evidence except the upper story of the old lockhouse at the foot of 17th street. And in that park, near the ''Old Glass-House" locality, is being erected a magnificent memorial to Abraham Lincoln. Improvements are gradually creeping into the "Old Glass-House" region, and when all danger from malaria shall have been removed, the waste places along the edge of the park will be occupied by beautiful residences, just as the neighborhood of Connecticut avenue, from being a mud roadway running through a very unsightly region, was changed into the splendid locality that it now is. When I expressed such a prediction to Miss Knobloch, she said that the neighborhood could never be as beautiful again as it was in the early days of the Glass- works. So is the tale of another community growing up around a glass factory as they have done time and time again in the early history of the united states. No other business seemed capable of supporting an entire village of people like a good glass factory did.
The works would continue on and off until 1851 when they finally closed. The works began in 1807 and lasted until 1851. There were some time periods where the the works were idle. A best guess was the works operated for about 37 years on and off again. Below is a picture of the man Fredrick Schneider who was most responsible for all of this information. He lived near and worked at the glass factory for a few years beginning at age 10 as a crate maker and a few years later at the age of 16 making iron Blow pipe rods and any other needed metal products. He was very helpful to the Columbia Historical Society in gathering these records. It is not to often we can look into the eyes of someone who was part of such an early glass works.
The next time you visitWashington D C go to the Lincoln Memorial stand at the top of the steps peer into the large room housing the Lincoln Memorial,but before stepping inside turn to your right and look due North..... Just imagine in 1811 a year before the British would be back to burn Washington there was a huge glass factory in the short 300 foot distance of eye sight with a wharf which extended out underneath of yourself and the current Lincoln Statue....Hard to believe isn't it!!
Credit and referencing to the following sites and Society's.