Paul Wissmach Glass is a producer of specialty art glass in Paden City. The company was one of the first glass producers to locate in West Virginia and is one of the few to survive into the 21st century.
The company can produce more than 13,000 square feet of specialty glass a day in more than 3,000 brilliant colors. Glass produced at the Wissmach factory can be found in the White House, the Old Executive Office Building in Washington D.C., the Basilica in Rome and in many glass installations and lamps around the world. The company has a world-wide reputation; products from their factory are exported to every continent except Antarctica.
Paul Wissmach Glass Company began when the company’s namesake, a German immigrant in New York City, saw an advertisement for land along Ohio River and recognized the opportunity for industrial development. He had previously been importing stained glass from Europe. Wissmach joined with another immigrant, Joseph Reininger. in 1903 to manufacture stained glass as the Empire Glass Company in Paden City. Reininger provided the technical knowledge for the company, while Wissmach provided the capital.
In 1904, the partnership was dissolved, and Wissmach reorganized the company as the Ohio Valley Glass Company, operating under that name until 1910 when the company adopted its current moniker. Wissmach continued to manage the company until his death in 1926. Management of the factory then transferred to his nephew, Alfred Vollmar.
In 1927, the company faced tragedy when a glass leak at the factory sparked an explosion. The resulting fire destroyed the section of the factory that produced cathedral art glass. At that time, the factory was one of only two stained glass factories in the United States, and one of three in the world. Losses were estimated at $100,000, but insurance covered the damages and the company reopened with new machinery and resumed production a year later.
In 1938, Marguerite Vollmar, who had a hand in the company’s operation from its inception, assumed the presidency of the company from her brother, Alfred. She managed the company for 49 years. When Marguerite Vollmar died at age 100 in 1987, the company was transferred to long-time plant manager, Paul Feldmeier, Sr. As of 2012, the company remains in operation and continues to be managed and operated by Feldmeier’s sons.
This Article was written by Bryan E. Ward Jr.
Last Revised on February 01, 2012