Blenko Glass Company has been a family owned and operated company since 1893. We have been located in Milton, WV since 1921. With Exquisite color, skilled craftsmen, and imaginative designs have made Blenko famous in the time-honored craft of hand-blown glass. In a world of ever increasing automation, we at Blenko pride ourselves in paying particular attention to the forms and designs of our hand crafted products. We all need, now more than ever, hand-made possessions that are unique and inspiring.
William J. Blenko
In London on December 8th, 1854 William John Blenko was born to a middle class English family. William became interested in glass adornment at an early age, and being encouraged by his mother apprenticed himself to a glass craftsman. He attended school and became a pupil of a philosopher John Tyndall. Early in the 1880s he went into business for himself making what is known as rondels (Round Window Panes), while experimenting with other processes of making glass superior to his competitors.
At the age of 38, he came to New York to experiment with the wonder fuel natural gas. Hearing that this fuel was abundant around Kokomo, IN he went there and started up one of Americas first gas-fueled operations.
The year was 1893, he was producing glass but it would not sell. The American window makers would not accept his products, although it was made by Old World methods. There was a natural prejudice against a domestically made glass. The stained glass studios were European and wanted European glass. This was later known as “The Cleveland Panic”. Discouraged by this he decided to return to England and export the same product he was making in Indiana. He came back to Indiana in 1899, and started a trans-Atlantic shuttle that would end in Milton, WV 23 years later.
He chose the little farm town of Milton because the Industrial Development Dept of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad sold him on the idea of Milton as a good place to work. It was a dependable source of sober, industrious labor and natural gas, used in all the glass furnaces, was cheaply priced. In the spring of 1922 William arrived in the small town of Milton, where he soon began unloading the tools of his trade into a small hillside barn. He then went to work building a furnace, with the help of a newly recruited crew of locals. Within a few weeks, glass was being made.
In 1925, William H. Blenko and his wife Marion (daughter of Henry Hunt of Hunt Stained Glass Studios in Pittsburgh, PA) came to Milton to help his father in the day to day operations of the factory. Needing still larger production areas and better shipping facilities, the Blenko works moved to their present location near the main line of the C&O Railroad across the river from Milton.
During the depression era William became aware that there would be a need to expand the product line to more than just stained glass. So in 1929, he secured the services of two Swedish Glass Craftsmen. They trained the Blenko crews to craft beautiful pieces of glass by hand. Production increased and in 1930, the company changed from Eureka to Blenko Glass Company, and so came the tableware line of glass products that have made “Blenko” a household name all over the world.
William H. Blenko, Sr.
John Blenko died in 1933, and William H. Blenko Sr. took over the
larger responsibilities of the company. He became the President, and
presided over the steady growth Blenko experienced for 30 years. William
H. Blenko Sr. died in 1969. Marion Blenko worked seven days a week from
1923 until her death in 1989, as treasurer, secretary and retail sales
William H. Blenko, Jr.
Their son William H. Blenko Jr. was introduced into the trade learning
various phases of the operation in the company at an early age. He
worked at the plant during summers in his school years and graduated
from the Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1942. He received his B.S.
degree in Industrial Engineering. During WWII he was a Captain in the
U.S. Air Corps. And while stationed in England he met the English girl
who was to later become Mrs. Blenko. They later had two sons.
Richard D. Blenko
Richard D. Blenko, fourth generation President joined the
company in 1976. He attended Marshall University and the University of
South Carolina graduating with a B.B.A. in Business Management. He was
actively involved with the business and community. He energetically
promoted Blenko Glass and the art that goes into hand blown glass
through many venues including Public Broadcast Television.
Walter J. Blenko, Jr.
Walter Blenko is the current President and part owner of Blenko Glass Company. He has been involved in the company since 2003. Walter graduated from Carnegie Institute of Technology with a degree in engineering, he later went on to pursue and graduate with a degree in law. He also maintains a career in patent law near his home in Pennsylvania. Walter is a grandson of the founder of Blenko Glass Company and maintains that the tradition of American made glassware should continue.