(Photo: Indiana Insider Blog)
We love historic factory tours -- places with the patina of decades , where people have produced things used by succeeding generations, often in ways unchanged from their earliest days. If you’re intrigued by industrial landmarks, you must visit Kokomo Opalescent Glass. The company has been making colored sheet glass since 1888, in the same place and pretty much the same way today as it did in the beginning, which makes for a fascinating tour. Think fiery furnaces, glowing globs of glass, Dickensian tools -- very cool.
Kokomo Opalescent Glass can be found throughout the world, from the Vatican to Disney World. The world-renowned Louis Comfort Tiffany was one of the factory’s largest customers. The famously exacting Frank Lloyd Wright often specified the use of the company’s glass.
At Indiana Landmarks Center -- an adapted nineteenth-century church -- we discovered that the beautiful windows we called stained glass are for the most part colored glass created by Kokomo Opalescent Glass. Sunburst Stained Glass, which restored the windows, recognized the product and went back to the company more than 100 years later to make replacements for broken pieces using the original nineteenth-century color recipes found in its archives. Descendants of the trio who bought the company in the early 1890s remain active in the business, and many workers are second-, third- and even fourth-generation employees.
(Photo: Eli Duke on Flickr)
The factory makes art glass objects and four types of sheet glass in a myriad of colors, textures and densities. Kokomo Opalescent Glass offers a factory tour that combines art, history, and the fascinating industrial choreography of glassmaking. At just $5, it’s a steal!
Go to www.kog.com for tour information and more fascinating facts about the company and its history.
About Hidden Gems Indiana
Each week 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.