Mt Vernon Glassworks Archeology

Brian Wolff had researched the Mt. Vernon Glassworks for over 20 years and planned to write the definitive publication on the history and output of the glassworks. It operated in Central NY from 1810-1846.  About five years ago, Mark Yates and Richard Strunk joined Brian in his research. Brian became seriously ill during 2015, but before he passed away in December, Mark and Richard finally obtained exclusive permission to excavate the actual factory site which is in a residential backyard.

Rich spent 7 years as a professional archeologist and is knowledgeable on historic construction techniques. Mark is a long time collector and expert on Central NY bottles and glass and has also spent years researching the glassworks.

This site is significant as the factory closing in 1846 precluded late-19th century technological alterations that can obscure the earlier construction details. The glass that is being found will create a baseline of characteristics typical of Mt. Vernon. Mark and Richard have developed criteria for the proper attribution of unknown and previously mis-attributed items.

The edge of a large furnace, foundation walls, potash kilns and an air duct were discovered at the end of December, 2015. During 2016 we rented a Ground Penetrating Radar machine and did an initial survey of the yard. We found a well that was filled in immediately after the factory closed. In it we found 3 carved wooden blocks that were used to shape the hot glass parison on the blowpipe before it was blown into a vessel. We also found evidence of 2 unknown foundations.

So far we have excavated (75+) 1 meter square units to subsoil. Quantities of factory parts and tools have been recovered. We have an large amount of shards that offer evidence of what they did manufacture and what they did not. Our conclusions will be shared with collectors. Excavations and new discoveries continue to this day.

What we want to do
Uncover entire furnace structure and foundation walls and have them professionally drawn
Explore the 2 outbuilding foundations that were found with the GPR survey
Locate and excavate the privy
Redo the GPR survey with a different machine to make an accurate map of features. This will also uncover shallow features we know have glass in them that were not discernible with the machine previously used.
We are planning a display and lecture at the Springfield National Show with our findings

The owner has been most accommodating and is very interested in what we are doing and wants it to continue. He now has health and financial problems and has informed me several weeks ago he is planning to list the property for sale this fall. This will shut down the project, probably forever. After discussion with him he offered to lease us the yard thru 2018 for $10,000 with the possibility of extending the lease. This will enable him to continue to stay in the house and it will give us much greater access to excavate on the entire one acre site than we have previously had.

So far we have contributed our time and the costs of conducting the excavation, including the employee labor costs. We are asking for $12,500 to be paid out as follows. $10k for the 2 year lease, $500 for rental of the GPR machine, $500 for tractor rental, $1000 for a professional draftsman to draw the furnace structure and $500 for misc supplies such as screens, bags and tools. Any extra funds obtained will be used to pay employees to expedite the project. We will not personally receive ANY of the proceeds of this fundraiser. This project has the backing of the FOHBC, Norm Heckler Sr, Ferdinand Meyer and many others in the bottle collecting community. Volunteers and visitors to the site are welcome when we are there!

Trench Across Furnace Structure


Wooden hot glass forming block found in Well circa 1846
Clear Tippecanoe shard found at site


Tableware shards

Donations

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  • Gary Moeller 
    • $50 
    • 37 mos
  • Chris Woods 
    • $50 
    • 42 mos
  • Dana Charlton 
    • $75 
    • 42 mos
  • Kathy Shue 
    • $25 
    • 47 mos
  • Federation of Historical Bottle Collectors 
    • $2,500 (Offline)
    • 47 mos
See all

Organizer

Richard Strunk 
Organizer
Palatine Bridge, NY

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