W.R. Jones Glass Company was a manufacturer of window glass located in Morgantown, West Virginia. Founded in 1902 by Walter A. Jones, the factory was located in Seneca, now Sunnyside, along the Monongahela River. W.R. Jones Glass was outstanding in the early twentieth century for its use of modern factory technologies. It later consolidated with other local factories and created the United States Window Glass Company. The company disbanded in 1927 and the buildings were torn down throughout the 1940s. No buildings of the original factory stand today.
In 1901, Walter A.
Jones commissioned the building of the W.R. Jones Glass Company on the
Monongahela River, directly behind the successful Seneca Glass Company. His
company holdings were previously located in Indiana, but West Virginia had
better access to natural gas.1 His original purchase
was a small plot from the Morgantown Glass Co. right along the Monongahela
River.2 In 1902, Jones purchased three additional lots
from George S. Sturgis, president of the Morgantown Investment Co., and land
from the Morgantown Brick Company.3 The
W.R. Jones Glass Company factory was ready for operation later that year.4 The buildings, all ironclad, included the main
factory, the flattening house, two warehouses, and a hay barn.5 The new factory was praised for being one of
the most modern in the country, for it used the latest equipment in the window
glass industry. The factory included a 48-blower tank, which kept a lake of
molten glass ‘fired’ from the beginning to end of the season. The factory hired
up to 200 workers who ran the factory around the clock. Their convenient
location on the B&O Railroad enabled this large scope of business and its
success.6 In 1904, the original factory was destroyed in
a fire and then rebuilt.7
Mechanization of the
plant began in 1910 and was complete by 1921, with the glass manufactured
solely by a mechanized process. The mechanization of the glassmaking process
greatly increased productivity for the plant, though it changed the nature of
work for the company glassworkers. The glassworkers at the W.R. Jones Glass
Company were skilled craftsmen who were transferred to an assembly line system
of work when the company mechanized.
In 1913, the W.R.
Jones Glass Company, Marilla Glass Company, and Jones Machinery Company were
incorporated into the United States Window Glass Company. Window glass,
also known as flat or plate glass, was one of three branches of the larger
regional glass industry, which included glass tableware and container glass.
Each branch of the glass industry had distinct operations, factories,
technologies, and glassworkers of unique skillsets.8
In 1927, the company
was forced to auction their holdings in front of the Monongalia Courthouse. All
the United States Window Glass Company’s holdings including both the lots for
the Marilla Glass plant on Decker’s Creek, the former W. R. Jones lots, all
buildings, factories, plants, warehouses, boilers, machines, and tools, were
sold to French O. Garwood.9 Blocks 31 and 41, the
former home of W. R. Jones Glass Company would transfer hands at least three
more times in the next fifteen years. Most of the buildings would stand through
the 1940s. The dismantling of the Window Glass Company reflected a broader decline
of Morgantown industry in the mid-twentieth century.
Today, no buildings
stand from the original W.R. Jones factory. Greer Steel Company bought the land
in 1960 to build a dock. Today, the land is still owned by the Greer Steel
Company and is empty except for an access road to the dock.10