H. C. Fry Glass Company, Rochester, Pennsylvania

A Brief History of Henry C. Fry and the Fry Glass Company

[Trade Journal]

Publication: National Glass Budget

Pittsburgh, PA, United States
vol. 30, no. 5, p. 1, col. 1-2


In its last Sunday's issue a local daily devoted considerable space to a write-up of various industries in the Beaver valley, particularly as applied to Rochester, Pa., a town which has gained world-wide recognition mainly owing to the activities of Henry C. Fry, dean of the flint glass manufacturing fraternity in the United States. For more than 40 years Mr. Fry has been engaged in the glass business at Rochester, the output of his factories having been poured into every nook and corner of the civilized world. Although now past 70 years of age he is still in the harness and in an excellent state of physical and mental preservation. From youth up, every ounce of his massive figure has been charged with an energy that knows no let-up, and it has been characteristic of him that he was ever ready to invest his accumulations in any sort of a proposition tending to the upbuilding of the flint glass industry at home and securing a market for it in every land upon which the sun shines. he has made and spent one fortune after another developing improved appliances and compounding batches suitable to the production of high class goods, and in the end has proved a winner in the race, finding himself, as he does, in excellent financial condition after having put behind him more than three score years and ten, all filled to overflowing with earnest endeavor and well-directed effort. His life's work has been a signal success, and none will begrudge him the pleasure he is now getting out of his splendid industries in the Beaver valley, the forward strides he has made in glass manufacture and distribution being a crfedit to himself as well as the country which has benefitted by reason of his master mind and integrity of purpose. The following lines extracted from our exchange only scratch the surface of Mr. Fry's long and creditable career:

"In the development of glass manufacture Henry C. Fry has been a prominent factor, and it is largely due to his enterprise and ability that this great business has been brought to the highest standard."

"Mr. Fry was born in Lexington, Ky., in 1840. When 17 years old he entered the employ of William Phillips & Co. as clerk in their glass works, where he remained until 1862, when he enlisted in the Fifteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry, participating in all the battles in which the Army of the Cumberland was engaged. Returning to Pittsburg he engaged in manufacturing glass, as a member of the firm Lippincott, Fry & Co., which later became Fry & Scott and then Fry, Semple & Reynolds. In 1869 he was general manager for James B. Lyon & Co., Pittsburg, but in 1872 came to Rochester, where he organized the Rochester Tumbler Co. He also organized the First National bank, of which he is president and director.

"In 1901 the H. C. Fry Glass Co. was organized and a factory built in what is now known as North Rochester. This marked the beginning of a new era in the glass business, and today the Fry plant is recognized as the greatest of its kind in the world. This establishment is not only a factory, but a home for its workmen as well. The original buildings have been added to by newer ones of fireproof construction, surrounded by grounds that are beautifully kept and made to blossom as the rose. Cleanliness is the watchword in the Fry plant, and a visit is all that is necessary to convince one that surroundings count even in the manufacture of glass. Roominess is the keynote inside, and beauty the leading feature outside of the different buildings.

Henry C. Fry.

"The company has just completed and moved into a magnificent new office building that combines beauty and architectural design with every comfort and utility known for office employees. With a park like entrance flanked by flowing shrubbery, the visitor is at once impressed with the idea that here is no ordinary manufacturing plant. In short, everything possible is done at the Fry works to add to the comfort, cleanliness and pleasant surroundings of its employees. And this care is reflected in the bearing and dress of the workmen themselves. Pride in the institution and a feeling that everyone has a hand in keeping up the 'Fry quality' is evident on all sides. In reply to the questions, 'Does it pay - all this expense in beautifying and keeping up the park-like grounds?' an official of the company recently said 'It's not a question of dollars and cents. Most of us live here. This is our home. Here is where we spend most of our waking hours. Why shouldn't we make it attractive?'

"And now just a word about the quality of Fry products. It is only natural that a concern so vitally interested in the welfare of its employees should be equally particular about the excellence of its wares. The little gold label 'Fry Quality' has become recognized as the hall mark of excellence in glassware, and every one of these labels is destined to sing Rochester's praises as a glass center wherever that commodity is used, and that is everywhere. Surely the 'Junction City' has reason to be proud of its leading industry.

"The Fry plant employs fro 750 to 1,000 workmen, a large percentage of these being skilled artisans. The highest scale of wages is paid and a premium is placed on efficiency that gives additional remuneration to the unusually expert workmen. The buildings and grounds cover a space of 10 acres and the plant has grown steadily since its inception. The officers of the company are; H. C. Fry, president; J. Howard Fry, vice president; Edw. T. David, secretary, and Herbert Ailes, treasurer. All these gentlemen are widely interested in other business ventures in the Beaver valley, and all have been instrumental in the development of Rochester, both from a commercial and financial standpoint.

"In addition to every kind of cut glass products, the Fry company specializes in etched glass of beautiful designs, lenses for automobiles and moving picture machines, and also manufactures the celebrated 'Golden Glow' headlights, searchlights and reflectors. In the new office building above mentioned are spacious sample rooms with magnificent displays of the company's wares, where visitors are always welcomed."


Keywords:H. C. Fry Glass Company
Researcher notes: 
Supplemental information: 
Researcher:Bob Stahr
Date completed:September 8, 2007 by: Elaine Corriero;