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News Coverage of Vitrolite and Tim Dunn

Vitrolite in the Headlines

Hoover Dam is latest job for St. Louis' Vitrolite Man
Tim Dunn restores the Vitrolite walls of the Hoover Dam's restrooms

Glimmers of History
Exterior of Bert's downtown drugstore back in high shine (Hastings, NE)

Early Vitrolite Corner Signs are Bringing New Collectors
Check out this article on Vitrolite from the September 2, 2013 issue of Antique Week featuring Vitrolite Specialist's Tim Dunn.

Coastland Apartments
The Vitrolite Specialist restores the bathrooms of this apartment building on the south side of Chicago.

Vitrolite Man Visits Ottawa
Tim Dunn restores the facade of a building on West Madison street in Ottawa, Illinois.

Owner Keeps Vintage Look for Local Building
Tim Dunn and crew restore the Vitrolite paneling on the Stumpp Building in downtown Mt. Vernon, IL.

Grand Theatre
Tim and Hank install a Vitrolite facade on the Grand Theatre in Grand Island. This is the largest Vitrolite installation since the 1950s!

Charleston Diner
Tim restores the Vitrolite facade of the Quarrier Diner in Charleston, West Virginia.

St. Louis Bathroom
Tim reinstalls a customer's Vitrolite in their newly renovated bathroom.

Apollo Theatre
The glass facade of this Oberlin theater is restored by Vitrolite Specialist.

Chicago Home
Tim Dunn restores the Vitrolite around a fireplace in Sherry Wiesman's Chicago home.

Alhambra Theater
Vitrolite replaced in the vestibule of the Alhambra Theater in Hopkinsville, Kentucky.

Maplewood Home
Tim Dunn installs Vitrolite in the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room of a home in Maplewood, Missouri.

Hamilton's Storefront
Tim Dunn repairs damage to 80-Year-Old Black Glass on Storefront of Hamilton's in Brownwood, Texas.

Artcraft Theatre
The Artcraft Theatre in Franklin, Indiana was restored with various Vitrolite techniques by Tim Dunn.

The Future Antiques
South Saint Louis storefront remodeled with Vitrolite.

New Use for an Old Tile
Tim Dunn restores a home in Ladue, MO.

Pieces of the Past
Tim Dunn restores storefronts in Palestine, TX.

Makeover Aims to Light up Downtown
Tim Dunn restores the Zoe Theater in Pittsfield, IL.

Vitrolite finds itself once again in demand – an article from the Kansas City Star.

Rivoli Theatre
Tim Dunn in Cedarburg, Wisconsin, restoring the Vitrolite on the Rivoli Theatre.

Glass Rejuvenated at Former Gibson Building
Tim Dunn in Appleton, Wisconsin, working on the former Gibson building.

Vitrolite Needed for Deco Theater Refurb
Vitrolite restoration of the Augusta Historic Theatre.

Visiting Specialist Fixes Old-Style Glass
Tim in Mt. Vernon, Il.

Vitrolite: Glass and class of the past Art glass of yesteryear offers a beautiful choice....

The Oman of Vitrolite All about Tim Dunn's work with pigmented structural glass from the Old House Web....

A Modern-Day Vitrolite Mine by Edelene Wood West Virginia's Parkersburg-Vienna area was a well-known source of world famous Vitrolite glass manufacturers in the decades of 1907-1937....

Vitrolite Man Vitrolite, that opaque glass tile common in fine St. Louis ....

Gala at Gem Theatre Marks Cultural Renaissance The Gem's red and gold marquee, standing tough in defiance of decades of decay, was alive again...

Ritz Theater Director Travels West to Gather Ideas for Talladega Antique Talladega Executive Director George Culver has just returned from a four-week, 5,600-mile driving tour....

Luck Helps Man Find Microniche If you'd ask Tim Dunn to fill out a survey stating his profession, he'd have a problem.  You see, what Dunn does lies outside the box....

Tim Dunn and Vitrolite: Each One of a Kind During the 1920's through the 1940's Vitrolite was used on the exterior of many buildings, especially theaters, as well as....

Visitor to Help Salvage State Theatre Glass During the 1920's through the 1940's Vitrolite was used on the exterior of many buildings, especially theaters, as well as....

Vitrolite Needed for Deco Theater Refurb

(Tim Dunn's Note: the Vitrolite Specialist supplied this theater with the needed glass panels.)

Courtesy of SalvoNEWS

Friday, January 05, 2007

Part of the front elevation in 2003
The front elevation in the 1930's or 40's
Detail of Art Deco Egyptian style

Augusta, Kansas USA – THE Augusta Historical Theatre was built in 1935 to designs by Carl and Robert Boller (aka Boller Bros) in the Art Deco Egyptian style. It pioneered the use of neon both inside and out, installed by Lite Craft Neon Co.

The web site of the Augusta Historic Theatre (spelt the English way) says:

The Theatre is a two-story art deco, brick and glass building in the center of downtown Augusta. It was one of the first theatres in the world to use neon illumination entirely throughout the interior. The neon lighting and fixtures were designed and built by the Lite Craft-Neon Company of Joplin, Missouri, the first company to introduce neon theatre illumination and neon decorations for theatre facades. The exterior of the building is covered with individual tiles of opaque Vitrolite glass. Above the decorative neon marquee, the tiles are pale green with an ornamental design in black and silver. The ornamental design was sandblasted and painted on the exterior of the glass. The glass on the upper section of the building was removed in the 1950s or 1960s and covered with a corrugated metal facade. The interior walls are covered throughout with hand-made ornamental plaster designs in black, silver, salmon and green. The entire ceiling of the 633-seat auditorium is covered with individual hand-painted fiberboard panels. Elaborately painted murals cover the north and south walls of the theatre. Doors, grills, switch plates and other details give the theatre an Egyptian appearance. The theatre's opulent interior treatments are hallmarks of the movie palaces that were built across America in the 1920s and 1930s.

The theater is undergoing a $300k renovation, part of which will be spent finding original green vitrolite tiles for restoration of the external facade. Director of Augusta Arts Council, DeAnn Triboulet, said, "We are replacing cracked and broken black and green Vitrolite panels on the facade which we are sourcing from architectural salvage companies."

Vitrolite is a structural pigmented glass, invented in the USA in 1900 and famously used in the 1913 Woolworth Building, New York, by architect Cass Gilbert. Although the glass was originally produced only in white, the range of colors from which architects could choose soon included black, beige, and ivory. By the 1930s, more exotic colors such as tropic green, forest green, robin blue, suntan, and jade were offered by the principal manufacturers in addition to the stock colors of gray, yellow, and tan. Tim Dunn, a Vitrolite specialist, says, "Even though the architectural glass industry has continued to expand its production of different types of glazing, the imaginative innovations of Carrara Glass, Sani Oxyx, and Vitrolite in the early part of this century have not been surpassed. New technology, combined with human artistry, produced exteriors and interiors alive with color and dimension. Glittering movie palaces, sparkling restaurants, and streamlined storefronts as well as the more mundane kitchens, restrooms, and laboratories exemplified the extensive variety and potential of pigmented structural glass."

Vitrolite is commonly rescued in the UK from bathrooms, usually in green, black and yellow. Tim says, "Removal of Vitrolite is an exacting operation. The mastic used may have become hard and difficult to separate from the ribbed backing of the glass. Solvents which are capable of softening the hardened mastic are methyl ethyl ketone, methyl isobutyl ketone, and acetone. They can be worked into the cavity behind the glass with a crook-necked polyethylene laboratory squeeze bottle or a large syringe without a needle. After the mastic has softened, two people using a taut piano wire sawing down from the top can safely and efficiently separate the glass from the wall.

Augusta Arts: Tel (USA) 316.775.2900 Email Augusta Historic Theatre