In 1863, Holz, Clark, and Taylor erected a glass factory at Broadway and Front Streets. Early products include several collectible fruit jars along with many mould blown bottles. Their products included The Salem Jar, the Holz, Clark, & Taylor Salem Jar, and the Peerless fruit jars.
John Gayner worked for his father in Bristol, England before coming to America in 1866. He started a glass factory in Waterford, NJ, and took on S. J. Pardessus as a partner. They made colored lamp shades and glass stained by a new technic. They moved their business to Salem where they leased the defunct Holz, Clark, and Taylor factory. John started off with less than a dozen workers, and by 1918, the company had over 600 employees. In 1879, they purchased the property and in 1885, Pardessus withdrew from the partnership. John Gayner then operated the business alone, until it was incorporated as a family business in 1898.
One furnace supplied glass for various bottles and fruit jars, including Clark’s Peerless, J & B Fruit Jar, Trademark Leotric, The Gayner Mason, Gayner Glass Top, Trademerk Electric, and the Trademark Banner fruit jars. Two additional furnaces supplied glass for the hand shops making five gallon and ten gallon carboys along with battery jars. In the 1920’s, J. William Gayner started the factory making insulators. There are ten different insulators that were made at Gayner, and they all have “Gayner” embossed on the side. The quality of these insulators was excellent, but they were only produced for three years. J. William Gayner left the Gayner Glass Co., in 1923, to join the Lynchburg Glass Co. and headed up their effort to produce insulators.
The factory focused on large carboys, but also made decorative whiskey bottles, grape juice bottles, glass eye washes, and even some collectible or commemorative bottles like the Helm’s Cove bottle in green. Green was probably easy for them because they were probably making seven up bottles, which are the same color. Many of the Gayner items have a “G” or Gayner on the base.
Eph Roundtree was a glass blower at the Gayner plant from 1934 to 1965. In the off hours, he would make glass whimsies like lilies, turtles, swans, pipes, and canes. Whatever he made had to go through the lehr for overnight cooling. Many times he would come to work the next day to find his personally crafted items were missing. To learn more about glass whimsies, go to www.whimsey.org .
In 1956 the family business was sold to Star City Glass Co., which later merged with the National Bottle Corp. The National Bottle Corp. ceased operation in 1975. In 1977, after a long financial struggle, John G. Foster obtained the old Gayner plant from the National Bottle Corp. Foster refurbished the newer furnace, renovated production machinery, and rebuilt production lines. In the fall of 1977, production started and bottles were again coming from the old Gayner plant. But with all the good intensions, the plant ceased production for the final time in 1979. The facility eventually became ALU-CHEM and a distribution center for solid chemicals like fertilizer.