Peer into America’s Industrial Past at the Dorflinger Factory Museum

Founded in July 2016, the Dorflinger Factory Museum in White Mills offers a unique educational experience for visitors through collections, exhibitions and interpretations.

Christian Dorflinger, an immigrant from the Alsace region of France, founded the Dorflinger Glass Companies in Brooklyn, NY and White Mills, PA in 1852. The company produced exceptional cut glass tableware that graced the tables of eight presidential administrations, beginning with President Abraham Lincoln. It was also part of table services in many wealthy households during the Gilded Age of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Dorflinger Glass was luxurious, of the highest quality and created with the utmost precision.

The Factory Museum focuses on the history of the company, which produced glass from 1852 to 1921, and the glassmaking process that made the Dorflinger brand synonymous with quality. Located in two remaining original factory buildings, the museum seeks to preserve the equipment and structures as a historical and educational resource. The museum also houses a comprehensive collection of Dorflinger glass and seeks to spread awareness and appreciation for the technological innovations and creativity developed within its walls. While the neighboring Dorflinger Glass Museum is not affiliated with the Factory Museum, it houses a significant collection of glass that complements the Factory Museum’s unique look into the past.

While the Factory Museum was created to preserve the physical structure of the original operation, it also aims to be a leading regional industrial heritage museum, connecting community members and visitors to the past. Focusing on three broad themes, the Factory Museum’s exhibits explore the history of the company as an example of the American industrial revolution; the creation of glass through manufacturing and glass blowing and the unique artistry that was used to cut, engrave, and etch Dorflinger Glass. To successfully demonstrate these themes with historical accuracy, working scale models are used in addition to equipment and furnishings from the original factory. Glass blowing, cutting and engraving equipment are on display, and visitors can periodically see demonstrations of glass cutting and engraving. Exhibits also include the factory’s original steam boiler and a working model of a 19th century stationary steam engine.

“One exhibit recreates a late 19th century dining room, furnished with period furniture and wallpaper and set with china, silver and Dorflinger Glass to illustrate how the glass was used in society. Other exhibits illustrate how the Dorflinger company advertised, marketed and sold its products,” shared James Asselstine, owner of the Factory Museum.

With the largest and finest collections of Dorflinger Glass on public display, the Factory Museum showcases many rare pieces made in color and with silver decoration. A regulation size cut glass baseball bat made for local baseball star Eddie Murphy, who played for the Philadelphia Athletics in the World Series, is featured, along with glass produced for the White House, the Cuban Presidential Palace and wealthy Americans such as the Vanderbilts. The Ray LaTournous collection of Dorflinger Glass is also housed in the Factory Museum, providing a unique look at whimsical glass objects such as glass chains, paperweights, glass canes and cut glass books made by workers in their spare time and given as gifts. Visit www.dorflingerfactorymuseum.org.
– Ashley Price