Estell Manor Park
The quiet woodland scene before you was a very different place 150 years ago. The ruins are the remains of the Estellville Glass Factory, which employed as many as eighty men and boys at its peak of operation. Where the piles of stone and brick lie today, a powerful furnace raged, and highly-skilled glass blowers swung and blew eight-pound globs of molten glass into five-foot-long hollow glass cylinders. The cylinders were flattened and cut into window panes.
The Estellville Glass Factory operated from 1825 until 1877. The glassworks was made up of about fifteen buildings. The Pot House, the Melting Furnace, and the Flattening House, and Lime Kiln were used in the glass-making operation, and workers lived in ten to twelve nearby houses. The ruins that remain are the Pot House, the Melting Furnace, and Flattening House.
The glassworks was built by John H. Scott in 1825, on land owned by the Estells. Daniel E. Estell bought the business in 1834; his brother John and his brother-in-law Josiah Franklin also owned shares. The Estells lived in the John Estell House and the Estell Mansion in the village of Estellville, along what is now Route 50. The houses still stand, as does the company store and a Methodist church, a one-room school, a sawmill and a grist mill have disappeared.
The Estells owned their own sailing vessels, docked on the nearby Stephens Creek, which delivered glass to Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, and returned with supplies for the company store.
The Estellville Glass Factory was sold to John Baptist Stadler and John Getsinger in 1860. After that, it passed through the hands of a number of owners and operators, and was converted to the production of bottles before it closed in 1887.
Estellville Glass Factory was part of a thriving early nineteenth-century industry in South Jersey, where a plentiful supply of silica sand for glass, wood for fuel, and creeks and rivers for transportation to market, led to the development of numerous glass factories. At the same time, the process of making window glass from blown cylinders was developed, and replaced the earlier process of crown glass, in which window panes were cut from disks of glass. Glass-making declined throughout South Jersey by the last quarter of the nineteenth century because more efficient coal-fueled and steam-powered plants were being built outside the region; old fashioned wood-fueled plants which were not modernized could not compete.
The Estellville Glass Factory is unique among early South Jersey glass factories in its construction of native sandstone with brick-headed arches. Because of the nature of the glass-making process, many glass factories were lost to fire. The masonry construction at Estellville may have been an attempt to avoid such a fate.
(Inscription under the image in the upper right) Window glass cylinders being blown at a melting furnace