Chocolate, Golden Agate, and Rose Agate sound like names of candy and rare gems, but in the glass collecting world, they’re known as popular colors of products made by the Indiana Tumbler and Goblet Company. Though only in business from 1894 to 1903, when a fire destroyed the factory, the company based in Greentown produced pressed glass considered rare and expensive today. At the Greentown Glass Museum, visitors discover the company’s story, a product of Indiana’s gas boom.
In the 1880s, discovery of a 2,500-square-mile natural gas field in east central Indiana drew entrepreneurs and industrialists to cities that provided nearly free gas and money to help buy land. Extravagant practices—like towers of gas that burned 24-7 as tourist attractions, and pipelines running gas to Ohio and Chicago—depleted the natural resource after only 14 years, but the period left a legacy of landmarks. The success of Indiana Tumbler and Goblet Company spurred the growth of Greentown, located east of Kokomo, at the turn of the twentieth century.
(Photo: Ken Ratcliff on Flickr)
The non-profit National Greentown Glass Association formed in 1970 to promote preservation of the rare resource. The group operates the Greentown Glass Museum, located in a “newer” landmark: the 1928 City Hall Building on North Meridian Street. Inside, over 2,000 glass objects and artifacts are on display in old pharmacy cases donated by the Hook Drug Company of Indiana. The glass collection includes everything from creamers and pitchers to decorative toothpick holders and covered dishes topped by hens, cats, and rabbits.
Though fire destroyed molds of Indiana Tumbler and Goblet Company’s original patterns, at least a dozen companies attempted to reproduce the company’s colors and patterns in the ‘50s. At the museum, one display shows visitors how to spot differences between the originals and reproductions. Attendance swells every June, when Greentown draws collectors from around the country and Canada for its annual Greentown Glass convention, which includes an auction, antique show, and educational programs.
Admission to the museum is free. Museum hours are 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, March 1-November 30, and noon to 4 p.m., Wednesday-Friday, May 15-October 31. Closed Easter Sunday. Learn more at http://www.greentownglass.org/ or by calling 765-628-6206.
About Hidden Gems Indiana
Indiana Landmarks uses insider knowledge to highlight historic places worth a visit, from the quirky to the sublime: small towns, neighborhoods, restaurants, shops, parks, cemeteries, scenic drives, museums -- you get the idea. Learn more about Indiana Landmarks at www.indianalandmarks.org.