Congratulations to the recipient of our inaugural Kosciusko Chamber of Commerce Legacy Impact award, Warsaw Cut Glass!
In 1911 Chicago’s Johnson-Carlson Cut Glass Company met with the Warsaw Chamber of Commerce to establish a new glass-cutting business. Their Chicago factory could not keep up with demand and they found Warsaw to be well located.
The building was constructed using rejected paving bricks from Warsaw’s street department and Warsaw Cut Glass first opened for business in July of 1912. Master glass artisans painstakingly hand cut each piece of crystal on belt-driven wheels. One main shaft drove two floors of cutting and 55 workers. That shaft, and the original leather belts are still in use today.
The ownership of Warsaw Cut Glass has changed just three times in the company’s history, always in the hands of practicing craftsmen dedicated to preserving the art.
After running the business for 45 years, first owner, Oscar Hugo sold the business to Jackson Dobbins in 1957. Dobbins ran the ever-busier company with the help of his wife and step-daughter until his health began to decline in the 1980s. At that point, he began searching for a worthy apprentice and found Randy Kirkendall, who then began to learn the art of hand-cut glass. At Dobbins’ passing Kirkendall and his wife, Linda purchased Warsaw Cut Glass and became the third owners of the business. They now own the business with their daughter, Lauren Kirkendall.
Today, Warsaw Cut Glass is one of the last American facilities practicing the art of cutting glass. The technique and equipment have remained unchanged and so has the product. Kosciusko County is blessed to have had them as a part of our community for over 100 years and we look forward to many more ahead!
Lauren Klusman is responsible for creating, implementing, and measuring the success of marketing, communications, and public relations programs that will enhance the organization's vision. In addition, she does photo and video work in order to increase visibility of Chamber members.