Updated 01-IV-2016

Loudon Glass

The Loudon Glass House was one of three lamp glass factories in the small town of Fostoria, Ohio. Early in its history it came under the control of the Fostoria Incandescent Lamp Company, and was merged with two other glasshouses into the Fostoria Glass Specialty Company. It was one of the founding factories that made up the National Electric Lamp Works in the USA, and ultimately became a factory of General Electric. Following the drying up of natural gas supplies in Fostoria, continued production could no longer be justified and its products were transferred to other GE Lamp Glass factories in the region.

Loudon Glass Division of General Electric

Address Hissong Avenue & State Street, Fostoria, Ohio, U.S.A.
Location 41.1443°N, -83.4074°E
Opened Approx. 1897-1902
Closed 1920
Products Glass Bulbs, tubing and cane

Start of Operations
The origin of the Loudon Glass House is not known, but it is likely to have been established shortly after 1897. In that year the Fostoria Incandescent Lamp Company opened, at first importing its glass bulbs from the Libbey plant in Toledo, Ohio. Fostoria was a major glass centre owing to the plentiful supply of natural gas, and following the start of lampmaking a number of small companies sprang up to supply the necessary bulbs and tubing.

Takeover by Fostoria
In 1899 the Fostoria Incandescent Lamp Company established its own glass production, setting up the Fostoria Glass Specialty Company in a former glassworks directly adjacent to the Loudon site. It later acquired another glassworks, the Fostoria Bulb & Bottle Company, which was absorbed into Fostoria Glass Specialty.

In 1901 Fostoria merged with the Sunbeam Incandescent Lamp Company to form the National Lamp Works of General Electric - a group that later expanded to amalgamate numerous small lampmakers and bring them under financial control of GE. The Loudon Glasshouse is cited as having been taken over by National in 1902, and was also merged into the adjacent Fostoria Glass Specialty Company but always maintained its name as the Loudon Plant. It is known to have produced glass tubing as well as bulbs for incandescent lamps, both made entirely by hand and with a very high proportion of child labour, as used to be standard practice in the glass industry a century ago.

Incorporation into GE and Closure
In 1911, General Electric was ordered to fully absorb its subsidiary, the National Lamp Works, and on that occasion the Fostoria Lamp and Lamp Glass factories came fully under the control of GE. In that year the Loudon plant was dramatically downsized when GE ended tube production, favouring the superior machine-made product of Libbey Glass. After a period of several weeks of lay-offs, the plant re-opened in November 1911 but with the workforce being reduced from several hundred to about fifty men. The plant continued to produce specialty hand-blown bulbs for GE until 1920, when the natural gas supplies at Fostoria finally dried up, and the company then relocated its lamp glass production to other factories in the Cleveland and Niles areas.

Loudon Glass Works from SE Loudon Glass Works from NE (3) Glass Bulb Blowing by hand (4) Glass Tube Drawing by hand (1)
Glass Tube Drawing by hand (2) Glass Tube Inspection (2) Factory Workers around 1911-12 (1) Factory Workers (1)
Factory Layout after 1911 (2)

1 Glass in Northwest Ohio, Quentin R. Scrabek Jr, Arcadia Publishing 2007, ISBN 978-0-7385-5111-1 pp.56-58.
2 Fostoria.org website, Fostoria Glassmaking History.
3 Fostoria.org website, Historic Postcards by Ray Dell.
4 Fostoria.org website, Historic Postcards by Pearl Peter.
5 Restart of Loudon Glass Plant, The Coffeyville Daily Journal, 7th November 1911, p.4.