Preserving Art, Culture, and History: Glass in Central City


The oldest glass companies in Central City Museum

    In the heart of Central City, located on 14STW, the Central City Museum sits inside the Antique Mall, preserving the deep-rooted history of Old Central City. Within the museum, you can find artifacts from the WV Brewery/Feseinmier, Heiner’s Bakery, D.E. Abbott Picture Frames, and more items from the businesses that helped establish Central City. More specifically, the museum contains many items from WV glass companies such as Rainbow Art Glass Company, Huntington Tumbler, and West Virginia Tumbler Glass. Earl Ray Bush, local historian and previous owner of most of the artifacts within the museum, sat down with me and discussed the previous glass companies that was once in Central City.

    Huntington Tumbler, one of the oldest glass companies, was located near Central City, manufacturing bottles and decorative glass pieces. According to Bush, like many other glass manufactures of the time, Huntington Tumbler started as a glass bottle making company for alcohol, but was forced to quit making alcohol bottles during temperance movement. Anton Zilhman, a Switzerland glass blower, ran the company until 1932, when it was forced to shut down due to The Depression. Bush explained that because of The Great Depression, and high taxes on businesses at the time, many of the glass companies didn’t survive.

Soda Bottles in West Huntington

Companies like Owen-Illinois, who used molds from Huntington Tumbler, went from making just alcoholic bottles to soda bottles, according to Bush.

“Most of these bottles were used in the businesses here and they made the soda pop here,” Bush said. “We had Coca-Cola and other soda companies make the soda and then sell it here.”


Soda Bottles cont.

Most of Bush’s collection came directly from the glass blower themselves or directly from their families. Bush said he was lucky enough to get to know many glass blowers that used to work in the factories around and learn more about glass blowing and the importance.

“They had 16 different glass blowers at Huntington Tumbler, two shifts, daytime and evening,” Bush said. “Their products were really good, and their craftsmanship was really great. Far as I’m concerned, the Huntington Tumbler glass blowers were as good as anyone in the world, which is why their product is fantastic.”



Share your stuff!

More about preserving history and glass manufacturing in Central City will be in the following newsletters leading up to Patti Blenko’s visit to the Village Antique Market Fair May 21st! Do you have an interesting piece of glass or sell local glass at your shop? Reach out and tell us about it so your business and story can be added to our newsletters! Please share and invite the others in the community to RenewAll’s Pop-up Market Fair Events on the third Thursday of each month!
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Old Central City Association- Monthly Meeting
Jun 02, 2022
5:30 PM EDT
901 14 St West
Huntington, WV 25704
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Old Central City Association- Monthly Meeting
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5:30 PM EDT
901 14 St West
Huntington, WV 25704
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Central City Clean-Up Day
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5:00 PM EDT
544 14th St W
Huntington, WV 25704
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10:00 AM EDT
544 14th St W
Huntington, WV 25704
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