Industrial, Walkerton was once home to "Central Cut Glass Co." during the early 20th century. Today, many people still have the intricately cut "crystal" products in their antique polished glass collections or lamps. The industrial complex stood at what is today, the old Plas/ Steel Plant on Adams St. behind the railroad diamond. Much of the first Plas/ Steel complex is built into the remainder of the old Central Cut Glass building.
Brilliant Period cut glass on display at the Ella L. Bolander Collection hall in the Fort Wayne Museum Of Art.
American cut glass was grazed more sharply and polished distinctively than say, European glass competitors of the time. Historians refer to that era as "The Brilliant Period." The Walkerton operation had 10 machine frames used to mold the glass. They used shaft and belt driven cutting wheels that employees used to engrave the designs into the glass molds. The Walkerton workers produced elegant punch bowls, cigar holders, smelling salt bottles, doorknobs, and lamps.
The opulence of the age included cut glass serving pieces and accessories for well-furnished American dining rooms. Fashionable homes were judged by substance for social climbers. You might find Walkerton made perfume bottles, vases, berry bowls, and heavy platters. The upper crusts cravings for cut glass provided a lot of work for skilled craftspeople. The American cutting houses produced superior pieces and complex designs when compared to competitors across the Atlantic. The Brilliant Period lasted from 1876 to 1916.
Workers pose for a photograph at the Walkerton Central Cut Glass Company plant located on the Nickel Plate Railroad line at the westside of town. Many employees were chosen for their precision skills.
Indiana was home to many glass factories and precision cut houses. The Walkerton Improvement Association led by a group of civic leaders focused with attracting new business to the community during, the early 20th century. It was with the help of Milo B. Slick that Eckland was lured to make investments in the Walkerton community. Oscar W. Eckland of Chicago began with his precision phonograph and records company. He later started the cut glass operation. He was further inspired by the Walkerton leaders to employ over 100 people at the new plant. With the Nickel Plate Railroad Line on the front side for the plant they would able to ship anywhere with ease.
Walkerton Improvement Association leaders like Milo B. Slick helped lure new business to the community. His efforts helped bring Central Cut Glass Company and ultimately employed over 100 people. Picture provided by Suzanne Slick.
The westside Walkerton Central Cut Glass plant provided many opportunities for the community between 1910 and 1919.
Musician, Rex Masterson provided a photo of his collectible Central Cut Glass made lamp produced in Walkerton between 1910 and 1919.
The Central Cut Glass Company was built in 1910 by Oscar W. Eckland. The Walkerton Improvement Association led by business leaders and prominent names attracted Eckland to build close to the railroad center. The 2 story building that included a basement was erected with plenty of large windows to bring in sunlight. The craftspersons needed an airy open space to conduct their crafts. Eckland hired many talents from the Walkerton area. Their accuracy and skills were in demand for the vast world markets. Oscar W. Eckland brought his Scandanavian family from Sweden. Their roots are evident today at that mansion built at Roosevelt & Ohio St. It is the largest home in Walkerton. Known, for its curved glass front parlor window. They kept 2 ballrooms and entertained guests from many regions.
The history of the Central Cut Glass Factory coincides with the Indiana Glass Company, and the Hoosier Glass Company brands. The Eckland's "Central Cut Glass" name ended after a devastating fire that happened in 1919. Oscar W. Eckland moved what resources he had left and later rebuilt a larger plant in Mt. Vernon, Illinois. If only he knew how many relatives of the old Walkerton operation continue to treasure what antiques are found? How precious the existence of the cut crystal designs are to Indiana collectors.
Special Thanks to:
American Cut Glass Association
Fort Wayne Museum Of Art