Now in the process of shutting down, Corning Inc.'s Refractories Plant is a relic of a bygone era in downtown Corning, when a cluster of glass factories sat between Market Street and the Chemung River.
Now in the process of shutting down, Corning Inc.’s Refractories Plant is a relic of a bygone era in downtown Corning, when a cluster of glass factories sat between Market Street and the Chemung River.
Production at the Refractories Plant ceased May 30, and small group of workers will remain through mid-July to shut the facility down, said Corning Inc. spokesman Joe Dunning. The workers were first notified of the closure back in October, he said.
There were about 20 union workers at the plant, and they will be shifting to other jobs within the company or retiring, said Mike Walker, president of the United Steelworkers Local 1000, the company’s union.
The plant - located near the intersection of Bridge Street and Market Street across from Wegmans - has been in operation for 84 years. It produced refractory materials used in glass melting operations, such as crucibles to hold molten glass and bricks to line the inside of furnaces.
It’s the last of the company’s downtown factories, he said.
“It’s the old traditional factory,” Walker said. “When you go in there, it’s like a different world, compared to the new facilities.”
The plant mostly supplied materials for Corning Inc.’s own glassmaking
operations, Walker said.
But as Corning Inc. evolved into a high-tech company, demand for those products dwindled, he said.
The Refractories Plant is all that remains of the Corning Inc. glass factories that once stood along Market Street, said Corning historian Tom Dimitroff. They were built in the late 1800s and were in production through most of the 20th century.
They began to disappear after the Flood of 1972, he said.
“The times have changed, Corning Inc. has changed, the technology has changed,” Dimitroff said.
The sleek, black Corning Inc. headquarters complex now takes up most of the stretch where the old glass factories stood.
Corning Inc. has not yet decided what to do with the Refractories Plant, Dunning said.
“We have no immediate plans for it,” he said.