MALL SET TO REPLACE
Leader Staff Writer
BELLAIRE - Bricks, boards, glass, dirt and
rocks remain where the Imperial Glass Co. once stood, bringing hope
and despair to those who once worked there.
As the demolition and plans for the $5 million
strip mall continue, many feel sentimental. "Every- one from out-of-town
asks "What happened to Imperial?'" said Gene Krapa, an employee
of the Hay Shed gift shop. She and her grandfather worked for Imperial.
She said the loss of Imperial is a sentimental issue because
of the history behind it.
"Some people even wanted bricks from
the building," Krapa said. Watching
from the Hay Shed, Krapa said she saw people drive up behind Imperial
and scavenge for momentos of the building.
That was until no trespassing signs were set up.
Ken Hill of Maroon Enterprises said no one is allowed on the
"Most people are taking bricks as souve-nirs,"
said Charles "Bud" Fry, president of the Bellaire Development
Committee. He said people
are probably hunting for bricks that have "Bellaire" stamped
on them. Bellaire resident Nancy Frizzi said
the bricks used to build the Imperial plant were probably made by
Bellaire Brick, which her great-great grandfather, George Robinson,
founded. The bricks made by Bellaire Brick had "Bellaire"
Some people still remember Robinson's brick
yard on the hill above Georgetown.
"Some of the bricks had to come from that place,"
said Delbert Higgins,
a former glass blower at Imperial.
Frizzi said the clay was mined out of the hill up Fulton Hill
Road past West Bellaire.
Higgins said some people from California
and Michigan who attended the National Imperial Glass Collectors'
Society Convention, held the first weekend in June, were interested
in any part of the Imperial building for a momento.
"The NIGCS people were anxious to see it for the last
time," said Lucile Kennedy, Imperial employee for forty years.
"It's sad to see it go." said Bob
Burns, glass collector and Imperial worker for ten years. He became a glass collector after spending a short time working
there. "I became what
is commonly called a glass nut," Burns said.
"If you've ever been hit by the bug, it kind of stays
with you." Burns said he cherishes his days at Imperial
because a lot of nice people worked there.
He added he can't get excited about
newly made glassware either. "I
just like the older things," he said.
Maroon Enterprises bought the Imperial Glass
Factory in 1986 to develop it into an outlet mall. "The Maroon people have done whatever
they could do to make it go before tearing it down," Burns said. "There could never be a glass business
Krapa said that before Maroon Enterprises
bought the factory, Imperial had been operating in bankruptcy with
plans for reorganization. However,
the plan for reorganization was rejected and the Imperial Glass Co.
was ordered into liquidation by the courts.
During the liquidation time, in April 1985, Anna Maroon bought
Imperial with the intention of perpetuating glass making in the area.
For two to three years after the purchase, glass was still
made at Imperial by former Fostoria glass workers from Moundsville,
Krapa said once the strip mall is completed,
plans call for the employment of 400 people."I
really wish they could have done something else,"
said Frank Moore, another former Imperial worker. The sentimental value of the building runs deeper for Moore and
his family. Moore met his
wife, Theresa, in the Imperial office, where she worked. Moore said his brother also worked there. "It was a family all right," he said.
"We just kept hanging on," said Higgins.
"They were always predicting we weren't going to last.
"Every glass house is going under,' they'd tell us,"
Higgins said. "They shouldn't have torn that down,"
said Brooklyn Ross, Imperial worker for more than 40 years who sells
glassware at his furniture store, The Barn, in Bellaire. He
would rather have seen the old building , even run down. Ross agreed the strip mall will bring more
business to Bellaire.
"I'm just sorry it came to this," said Ralph
Boyd, a worker whose grandfather began working for the company when
it started. He believes Maroon
did try to do what they could. "I'd
rather see them tear it down than see it still standing with vandals
and so forth," he added.
"It was a way of life around here."
said Danny Lushbaugh, a former Imperial skilled glass worker. Lushbaugh said there was "a catch of turns"
in which people could walk in off the street and work four hours at
the time to make extra money. He
said some would work for three days, not come back for a while, then
they would come back and work some more.
"You were like family," he said. "This town should have tried to save it.
I think it would have made a comeback."
"It was a landmark," Lushbaugh said.
Despite the loss of a landmark, there are
hopes for Bellaire. Larry
Marinelli, Bellaire's city planner, said the strip mall is expected
to be built and in operation in 14 months, barring any delays caused
by weather. Marinelli said he wasn't at liberty to say
which stores have signed leases at the mall.
"It's going according to schedule,"
said Hill. He said it should
take two months to finish tearing down the building and another month
to fill in the site. He predicts it will take about eight months
to complete the buildings for the mall.
Hill said that it should take "a year or so" to complete
the whole mall project. Hill
also could not release the prospective leaseholders.
said the strip mall will provide more jobs and change the whole complexion
of Bellaire. "Bellaire
will transform to a place you want to be," he said.
"We just know it's going to be a good thing
for Bellaire," Hill said.
above article first appeared in Sunday, July 2, 1995
104 - No.104) issue of The Times Leader.
thanks to Lucile Kennedy for sharing the above article with us.
Imperial Glass Collectors' Society, Inc.
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