Loading...

Our History

Kokomo Opalescent Glass (KOG) has been in continuous operation at our current location of 1310 S. Market Street in Kokomo, Indiana since 1888.

The Gas Boom

The Gas Boom

To understand the inception of Kokomo Opalescent Glass you first must have knowledge of the events two years prior to the founding of the company.  On October 6, 1886 in a corn field about one mile northwest of the glass plant a group of speculators drilling a well discovered natural gas at around a depth of 900 feet.  The 20 foot flame lit up the dark sky that night.

Within a week here new gas companies were formed.  Then next eight exploratory wells in the area were successful.  By the end, on 1887 Indiana Natural Gas Company, one of the larger companies had over 23,000 acres leased and 475 gas producing wells.  The news of the significant gas discoveries traveled quickly.  It was thought that gas would last for 200 to 300 years but later that proved to be incorrect.  This discovery of natural gas brought many entrepreneurs and developers to the Kokomo and Central Indiana area.

The Gas Boom

 

Starting Out

 

Early History

Charles Edward Henry was born in Paris France in 1846.  Mr. Henry migrated to the United States in the early 1880’s.  He was a good glass chemist and he formed Henry Art Glass in New Rochelle New York in 1883.  Henry Art Glass made glass buttons, novelties, and opalescent glass rods.  While producing glass products Mr. Henry met many glass artists in the New York area including Louis Tiffany.

Mr. Henry heard about the gas boom in Central Indiana and returning to New York from a business trip to Chicago, IL he stopped in Kokomo.  On April 27, 1888, the same day he arrived in Kokomo, he met with local officials about establishing a glass plant in Kokomo.  Within 24 hours an agreement with local government officials was made and signed to provide Henry with a plant site and a natural gas supply.

After completing the agreement Mr. Henry returned to New York.  Within 30 days he returned to Kokomo to purchase a home and to start building a glass production plant with a seven pot furnace.  Actual production started at Opalescent Glass Works new plant on November 13, 1888.  The primary product was sheet glass but electric insulators were made for Edison General Electric with the excess glass.

On November 16, 1888 on of the first shipments of sheet glass went to Louis Tiffany.  The shipment included 600 pounds of blue and white opalescent glass.

By early 1889 Opalescent Glass Works employed over 50 people and was the only opalescent glass manufacturer west of the Appalachian Mountains.  In early 1889 Henry sent 30 sheets of opalescent glass to Paris France for display at the Paris Exposition (Worlds Fair).  On the Ocean journey to France 16 sheets were broken.  The remaining 14 sheets that arrived was sufficient for him to win a Gold Medal for the glass and also obtain over $50,000 in sheet glass orders.

Mr. Henry’s problems started upon his return from France.  The original bill of $3,800 for the construction of the plant along with his trip to France and several other bills went unpaid.  On January 10, 1890 the builder of the factory filed a lien on the plant for the amount of the unpaid balance.  In a futile attempt to retain control of the plant on January 29, 1890 Mr. Henry sold the factory to the plant manager for $1.00.  Three days later he married the 26 year old daughter of the plant manager.  The wedding celebration was held at the plant and described as a gala affair.

On March 11, 1890 Opalescent Glass Works went into receivership due to unpaid bills.  Later in the April 24, 1890 edition of the Kokomo Dispatch reported Mr. Henry was jailed due to violent behavior.  The article also pointed out that Henry had developed a drinking problem.  He also started writing bad checks.

On April 28, 1890 Charles Edward Henry was admitted to the Indianapolis Insane Asylum.  He died there two years later at the age of 46.

New Beginning

New Beginnings

Opalescent Glass Works continued to be operated under the court receivership.  In June 1891 the court started the process of selling the business.  On August 28, 1891 three local businessmen Peter Hoss, William Blacklidge, and John Learner purchased Opalescent Glass Works for $5,310.  These three partners were instrumental to KOG’s early development, and their direct descendants have been closely involved in managing the company ever since, making the KOG a unique example of a successful, closely held, “tri-family” business enterprise.

Louis Tiffany continued to be one of the largest customers until the mid 1890’s.  In 1893 Louis Tiffany purchased over 10,000 pound of glass from Opalescent Glass Works.

On January 13, 1912 the name of Opalescent Glass Works was changed to Kokomo Opalescent Glass Company which remains operating at the same location in Kokomo, Indiana.

Tiffany Glass History

The Tiffany Years

Over the years KOG developed a reputation for product uniqueness, quality and customer satisfaction that was unsurpassed in the stained glass trade. Industry giants such as L.C. Tiffany, J&R Lamb, and LaFarge are among the prominent names that appear often on the company’s early sales ledger. See The Tiffany Connection.

The OP Shop

The OP Shop

In 1973 KOG opened The OP Shop to provide customers with the opportunity to purchase suncatchers, sheet glass, and other custom glass KOG produced items to all those who came by or lived locally.

Today, The OP Shop operates our public and private tours, creates stained glass pieces, provides custom glass design services, restoration and repair services, and offers a wide selection of our sheet glass, cast glass, rondels and blown glass items for sale to the public.  All items sold in The OP Shop are produced from KOG glass by local artisans.

Recent Hot Glass

Recently

The Hot Glass Studio was established in 1998 to produce a wide range of quality hand-blown and hand-cast glass using the world famous Kokomo Opalescent Glass. Our glass blowers create one of a kind and limited edition functional and sculptural glass objects and rondels.

Today
The above photo depects CEO John O'Donnell and President Richard Elliott recieving the Governers Century Award from Governer Mitch Daniels and Lt. Governer Becky Skillman on November 4, 2009.

Today

We continue to be a source for restoration glass and will create custom mix batches for our commercial customers. We still have and mix many of the same “recipes” that originally made us a premier glass manufacturer and continue to add exciting new colors and textures to meet the demand of an ever growing consumer audience.

We are happy to provide customers outside of our locality with an opportunity to purchase Kokomo Opalescent Glass art pieces via our Web Store. We continue to change with the times but always remember our rich heritage in the glass industry. We are America’s Oldest Art Glass Company!