The Ohio Glass Museum will feature pieces emphasizing Lancaster's and Fairfield County's contributions to the glass industry, including several from Anchor Hocking.
The grand opening of the museum will be the same year that Anchor Hocking celebrates its 100th anniversary. The former largest employer in the county is expected to donate collectibles to the museum, some that are 100 years old.
Renovations to the building that will house the museum started Thursday. The gallery, 124 W. Main St., is slated to open in late spring or early summer of 2005.
A fund-raising campaign kicked off in February. So far, it has raised $182,000 of an approximate $900,000 from both corporate sponsors and individuals.
On one side of the building is the mural of Gen. William T. Sherman, the Civil War hero for the Union who was born in Lancaster.
Inside the museum, visitors will be able to watch work in a studio and interact with the city's history in glass.
"It will have a main gallery, display cases, an interactive area where people can learn about making glassware," said Russ Errett, a Construction Committee member for the Ohio Glass Museum. "The museum will also have a 50-seat auditorium for guest speakers, and display areas as well." The project will be completed in two phases.
Phase I includes remodeling the building's exterior, which is expected to last until October. Phase II will start immediately after the first phase is completed and will entail reconstructing the interior.
The building once was home to the Lancaster National Bank. Its most recent tenant was the Fairfield County Child Support Enforcement Agency.
The Fairfield County Visitors and Convention Bureau purchased the property from the county in February 2002. The museum's grand opening coincides with Anchor Hocking's 100th anniversary. The company, which has deep roots in the community, has been instrumental in developing the museum, said Greg Eyerman of the Fairfield County Visitors and Convention Bureau.
"People will be able to see movie footage of the plant and material (Anchor Hocking has) made in the past," Eyerman said. "They've been really cooperative along with Lancaster Glass."
The original Hocking Glass Co. was started in 1905 by I.J. Collins, William V. Fisher, Thomas Fulton and four others. The Hocking Glass Co. merged with Anchor Cap & Closure in 1937 and changed its name to Anchor Hocking.
Around 1910, Hocking Glass Co. began manufacturing pressed glass by machine rather than by hand, and today still produces baking dishes, punch bowls and serving ware such as plates and glasses.
Downtown Lancaster will boast four historical museums with the addition of The Ohio Glass Museum. Already in city are The Georgian, The Sherman House and The Decorative Arts Center in downtown Lancaster.
"(Once it's open) no way you can come to Lancaster and stay awhile, and not spend some dollars," said Gene Matheny, executive director of the Visitors and Convention Bureau. "What we expect is a wonderful museum full of beautiful exhibits."