The Hazel-Atlas Glass Company is a former manufacturer of machine-molded glass containers in Wheeling, West Virginia. At its height, Hazel-Atlas was the third largest producer of glass containers in the United States.


History

Charles N. Brady and Charles H. Tallman established a glass company in Wheeling, West Virginia in 1885, with each partner investing $600 into the business. 10 11 Batches of molten glass were purchased from tableware producer Riverside Glass of which Brady was then president.

The partners constructed two day tanks in an old mill and manufactured an opal glass insert used in zinc lids required for canning jar closures. 10 11 It supplied the product to the Bellaire Stamping Company, a lamp and fixture outfit. 11 Tallman was secretary and treasure of Bellaire Stamping.

A member of the Brady household called the business “Hazel” because it sounded nice, and the new enterprise was named Hazel Glass Company. 10 11

Brady, in his role at Riverside Glass, experimented with the use of natural gas as fuel in the glass production process. Brady and Tallman relocated to Washington, Pennsylvania after the natural gas field in Wellsburg began to wane. 10 11 The new plant, constructed in 188 to January 1887, was the first in the nation to use natural gas in glass production. The plant, with four day tanks, produced only Mason liners for brief time. It soon expanded to ointment jars and salve boxes, becoming the first to use opal glass.

Hazel Glass soon built a six-pot furnace, used to produce fruit jars, oil cans, lamp bases and other products of colorless glass. 11 It then built a 12-pot furnace in June 1888, an eight-pot furnace in 1892 and another eight-pot furnace in 1893, adding catsup, chili sauce, and maple syrup bottles.

Automated Processes

Brady invested money in the Wheeling Mold and Foundry Company of Wheeling, West Virginia, requesting that the company develop a machine to manufacture glass jars and bottles. 9 10 Charles Blue, the founder of Wheeling Mold and Foundry, developed the Blue Machine. It was tested and refined at Hazel Glass in 1895. The foundry soon had a combined 18 jar and bottle manufacturing machines in operation for Hazel Glass, Beatty-Brady, and Atlas Glass.

Hazel Glass incorporated the Atlas Glass Company in April 1896 to produce fruit jars. 10 11 The Hazel Company continued to manufacture items from opal glass while expanding its commercial work to include Vaseline jars, ink bottles, food jars, and shoe polish containers. Atlas started by utilizing a 20-ton, six-ring continuous tank and by September, it was producing 30,000 Mason jars a day on five Blue machines.

In 1900, Hazel Glass purchased the Griffith Tin Plate Company and converted it to glass production. 11 The new plant became Hazel No. 2 while the original facility became Hazel No. 1.

Commercial glass packaging evolved with the development of sealed closures for medicine and liquor bottles. 10 Prior to the sealed closures, corks were used. They were considered expensive. Zinc caps could often be substituted but often did not fit tight. To improve quality control and save on costs, J.C. Brady, a brother of Charles Brady, founded Wheeling Metal at Jacob and 19th streets in Wheeling to manufacture zinc caps, renting a portion of the Wheeling Hinge Company’s facilities for their production line. 12

The Wheeling Hinge Company had been incorporated in June 1865 and erected a one-story frame building to manufacture strap and T hinges. 12 In 1866, a large three-story brick building was added followed by another addition in early 1874.

Another brother of Charles Brady, W.S. Brady, formed the Republic Glass Company in Clarksburg in 1900 to produce jelly glasses and pressed tumblers on Cleveland press machines. 10 11 The plant uncovered an automated technique for glazing the rims of the jelly tumblers to make drinking tumblers.

Hazel-Atlas Glass Company

The Hazel-Atlas Glass Company was formed in 1902 from the combination of Hazel Glass, Atlas Glass, Republic Glass, and Wheeling Metal. 10 The new company broadened its production plans to include economical tableware.

It operated with four glass plants, three in Washington, Pennsylvania and one in Clarksburg, and one metal plant in Wheeling. 11 It added a new plant with a single tank in Grafton, West Virginia 5 in 1916, 11 and added a second tank and six Owens machines in 1917. The Grafton facility produced hollowware.

Hazel-Atlas acquired the Oklahoma Glass Bottle Company at Blackwell, Oklahoma and the Kearns-Gorsuch Glass Company in Zanesville, Ohio in 1920. 11 Kearns-Gorsuch had plants at Zanesville and Barnesville but the Barnesville plant was destroyed by fire soon after purchase. Hazel-Atlas then built a second factory at Zanesville in 1923 to produce narrow-neck bottles, jugs and tumblers.

Plants were added in Oakland, California and Lancaster, New York in 1929. 11

During the Great Depression, Hazel-Atlas mass produced “depression” pressed glassware, along with white milk-glass inserts used inside zing fruit jar lids, milk-glass cold cream jars, and salve containers. It also manufactured bottles and jars for the commercial packaging industry. It became best known for its Atlas E-Z Seal Preserve Jars which were sold nationwide. 8

By the late 1930’s, Hazel-Atlas had 15 factories in Blackwell, Oklahoma, Clarksburg, West Virginia, Grafton, West Virginia, Lancaster, New York, Montgomery, Alabama, Oakland, California, Pomona, California, and Zanesville, Ohio, among other locations. 11 It also had sales offices in Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, New York City, Philadelphia, Rochester, New York, and San Francisco. 10

Hazel-Atlas’ headquarters were housed in several buildings in downtown Wheeling, including the West Virginia Customs House, the Pythian Building, and the Central Union Building. 10 In 1930, the company hired Edwawrd Bates Franzheim to design a corporate headquarters. A four-story Art Deco styled building at 15th and Jacob streets was completed in 1931 for $200,000. 10 Its exterior was built of red brick and sandstone with a lobby adorned with dropped bronze light fixtures surrounded by Vermont marble.

Continental Can Company

On September 13, 1956, Hazel-Atlas became a subsidiary of the Continental Can Company, the second largest producer of metal containers. 1 2 7 11 The merger was challenged under the Clayton Antitrust Act that was decided by the United States Supreme Court in United States versus Continental Can Company. 3

Brockway closed the Grafton plant in 1958 6 and the Hazel No. 2 facility in Washington in 1965. 11

In the early 1960’s, Continental Can was ordered to dispose of glass container plants it acquired when it bought Hazel-Atlas. 2 The firm arranged the sale of five plants to Brockway Glass Company and another to Anchor Hocking. It planned to keep a flatware plant in Weirton and a bottle cap plant in Wheeling. The company was not able to find a buyer for two facilities in Clarksburg and Wheeling, which employed 2,025 total. In the end, a federal judge ruled that Continental Can did not have to sell the plants in Wheeling and Clarksburg. 4

Continental sold all but the Plainfield, Illinois facility, which had been constructed by Hazel-Atlas in 1957, to the Brockway Glass Company in 1964. 12 Kerr Glass later purchased the Plainfield factory.

The Wheeling facility was acquired by local investors and renamed Wheeling Closure Corporation. 12 It produced Atlas Home Canning lids, along with lids for Avon, Jif, Taster Choice Coffee, and other companies. After the company closed, the property was acquired by demolition contractor Frank Calabrese. Portions of the factory, long disused, are being razed.

Locations

The headquarters for Hazel-Atlas was donated to West Liberty State College which reused the building for its downtown campus. 10 It then became the site of West Virginia Northern Community College in 1972.

Brockway Glass became Brockway Inc. in 1982 and Owens-Illinois merged with Brockway in 1988, renaming the combined company Owens-Brockway. 11

Sources