Glassworks—an early member of Burlington’s business community
On July 12, the public can learn about Burlington’s first manufacturing business. “The Champlain Glassworks: A Roller Coaster Ride for Burlington’s First Manufacturing Company (1827-1850)” will be the first in this year’s Second Saturday series presented by the Vermont Historical Society. The program will feature L. Diana Carlisle and her research on what was Burlington’s largest manufacturing enterprise at the time.
“In 1827 in Burlington what could be more enticing for enterprising businessmen and investors looking for a start-up venture than the fascinating business of glass making?” noted Vermont Historical Society’s Public Programs Coordinator Amanda Gustin. “Commerce had taken over the lake and the port of Burlington after the War of 1812, the Champlain and Erie Canals had opened resulting in new cities and new markets, especially in the West.”
At the time, window glass was a needed commodity, and thus the Champlain Glass Company, Burlington's largest manufacturing enterprise at the time, was founded. But glass blowing was risky business— fires and more fires, tariffs, competition for markets and for skilled workers, bankruptcy, then successful reorganization, and on it went. Using information sources such as company ledgers, weekly payrolls of barter and pay, stories of the management, the workers and their families, insurance maps and newspaper reports, this is the story of the company and its changing leaders as told by expert historian L. Diana Carlisle.
The Society’s Leahy Library at the Vermont History Center is also open on second Saturdays, offering thousands of books, maps, photos and other collections that document all aspects of Vermont’s remarkable history. The library is open Tuesday‒Friday 9:00 am to 4:00 pm; Wednesday evenings until 8:00 pm; and second Saturdays 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.
The presentations are free with the cost of admission to the galleries. Adults $5; students, children, seniors: $3; families $12. Members are free.