400 Years of Glassmaking

To commemorate the 400th anniversary of glassmaking at Jamestown, a variety of special programs will be presented on the weekend of October 25 and 26 at Historic Jamestowne's Glasshouse. Historic Jamestowne and the Glasshouse are a unit of Colonial National Historical Park. These special activities will highlight the importance of the glass industry and its impact on the development of the first permanent settlement in English North America.



Saturday and Sunday, October 25 and 26


8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. – Visit the Glasshouse
Tour the remains of the original furnaces used by the early glassblowers and watch as glassblowing is again performed at Jamestown, 400 years after the colonists first established the industry. Modern artisans in period clothing produce common glass objects using tools and methods similar to those of the 17th century.

In honor of the 400th anniversary of the Jamestown Glasshouse, the glassblowers have created a limited edition bull’s eye ornament that will be available for purchase during the anniversary weekend. Bull’s eye glass is an artifact of an era when window glass was mouth blown and was commonly found in windows of Colonial-era buildings.


9:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. – Meet the Glassblowers: Bull’s Eye Glass
Join a glassblower from the Jamestown Glasshouse for a discussion of bull’s eye glass and demonstration of how it is made. Until modern techniques were developed, one way of making window glass was to spin a blob of molten glass, which centrifugal force flattened into a sheet. When the tool was pulled away, it left a characteristic bull's eye mark. The relatively flat glass on the perimeter of this glass pancake was carefully cut into pieces and sold to the wealthier consumers who could afford window panes. The bull's eye mark was often used in lesser locations, such as barns and sheds.


10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. – Jamestown’s Industrial Revolution
Join a Park Ranger for a special 30-minute program that explores the wide variety of industries that were spawned at Jamestown (including glassmaking) and learn why the natural resources of Virginia were so appealing to the Virginia Company investors. (NOTE: On Sunday October 26, the tour will be offered only at 10:30 a.m.)


10:30 a.m. – Evolution of Wine Bottles
Join a Jamestown glassblower and learn about the long and interesting history of the wine bottle. Used since the time of the ancient Romans, glass bottles are still the best way we have to store and preserve wine.


3:00 p.m. – Goblets
See how glass goblets are made and learn the history of these drinking vessels, whose first use dates to the 14th century.


4:00 p.m. – Artifacts Found at the Jamestown Glasshouse
Learn how National Park Service archeologist J.C. Harrington uncovered the site of the 1608 Glasshouse furnaces and what the artifacts he found told us about the first industry attempted in English North America.


Sunday, October 26, 2008

2:00 p.m. – “Jamestown & Glassmaking, the First Industry in English North America”
Karen Rehm, Chief Historian of Colonial National Historical Park, will explore the beginnings of manufacturing and industry at Jamestown in a lecture entitled “Jamestown and Glassmaking, the First Industry in English North America. This program will be given at the Historic Jamestowne Visitor Center.


About the Jamestown Glasshouse
One of the goals of the Virginia Company of London was to establish a profitable industry within Virginia. Late in 1608 a glasshouse was constructed about one mile from the “James Fort” establishing glassmaking as one of America’s first industries. When Christopher Newport returned to England, he carried with him a “tryal of glasse”. Unfortunately very little is known of this first attempt at glassmaking at Jamestown, and by the end of 1609 the operation had ceased. Today a reconstructed glasshouse allows visitors to view artisans demonstrating the craft of 17th -century glassblowing.


Historic Jamestowne preserves and interprets the site of the first permanent English settlement in America and is jointly administered by APVA Preservation Virginia and the National Park Service - Colonial National Historical Park. Admission is $10.00 per adult, age 15 and younger is free, and includes all programming. National Park Service passports and APVA memberships are honored.

Historic Jamestowne is located at the western terminus of the Colonial Parkway; from I-64, take exit 242-A (Route 199) and follow the signs for Colonial Parkway/Jamestown. From southside, take the Jamestown Ferry and turn right onto Route 359, following the signs for Historic Jamestowne. For additional information, contact Colonial National Historical Park at 757-229-1733 or 757-898-2410, or visit our administrative partner the APVA via the internet at www.HistoricJamestowne.org.


Last updated: March 31, 2012

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