Dyottville Glass Works Site

dyott-mapThe Dyottville Glass Works site was located at the intersection of Dyott Street and Richmond Street, with Dyott Street to the south, Richmond Street to the west, and the Delaware River to the east, situated along the northeast shoulder of the Dyott-Richmond Street intersection.

The Dyottville study area conditions prior to the start of archaeological investigations were characterized by asphalt paving over Belgian block. Concrete paving related to early-twentieth-century rail lines was exposed beneath the Belgian block in the west half of the excavation area. Sections of railroad tracks were visible on the street surface and were embedded in the concrete base, along with wood railroad ties. A chain link fence, aligned along the far outer edge of Richmond and Dyott Streets, defined the eastern boundary of the study area. A privately owned, grass-covered lot—located on the east side of the fence, outside of the project area—likely contains additional well-preserved Dyottville Glass Works buildings and archaeological deposits.

Site History Summary

In 1771, Robert Towars and Joseph Leacock built the first glass factory in the area, the Philadelphia Glass Works; it was located on the property immediately north of the Dyottville Glass Works. In 1774, John Hewson erected a calico printing works between the north bank of Gunner’s Run and the Philadelphia Glass Works. In 1816, John Hewson Jr. became a partner in the firm Hewson, Connell & Company and announced that they would build a new glassworks on their lot, which adjoined the old glassworks* lot. City directories list their glass factory on “Queen near Gunner’s Run” from 1817 to 1822.

In 1816, John Hewson Jr. constructed the Kensington Glass Works on the site of the former printing works. This brick building, with stone foundations and a single furnace chimney, was probably the 1816 glass factory structure that Thomas Dyott took over in 1830 and operated until 1838. The bank of Gunner’s Run was probably wharved with a timber bulkhead in the early nineteenth century. After Thomas Dyott’s business failure in 1837, the glassworks remained idle for a few years. The Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company acquired Dyott and other lands along the riverfront and built a coal depot that became Port Richmond. The company rented the former Dyottville Glass Works to Henry Seybert in 1842. Seybert sold his interest in the factory two years later to Henry Benner and others, and a series of business partnerships continued the glassworks under the name of Dyottville Glass Works until 1923.

*In general reference, glassworks appears here in its contemporary, single-word usage.

What Did the Archaeological Excavation Reveal?

Archaeological excavation of the earliest Dyottville glass factory revealed multiple phases of the structure, encompassing the entire evolution of the glass factory building from its initial construction in 1816 to the final building phase in the late nineteenth century. Numerous architectural elements were identified, such as furnace clean-out vaults, multiple tempering/annealing oven foundations, a late-nineteenth-century brick floor, and other interior walls. The remains of the sand house (an essential ingredient in glassmaking) were exposed and consisted of a well-preserved wood floor, remnants of plank walls, and sand still covering the floor inside the former structure. Excavations also revealed that foundations relating to the earlier Hewson Calico Print Works were incorporated into the early glasshouse structure.