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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....

Chillicothe, MO

From the July 25, 2005 Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune

You may have walked past it dozens -- or, perhaps, hundreds -- of times without noticing it. But for Vitrolite specialist Tim Dunn, older buildings with sleek tinted glass grab his attention and send him back in time when Vitrolite was the building material of choice.

This St. Louis man travels throughout the country restoring and replacing this once popular pigmented structural glass called Vitrolite. He arrived in Chillicothe on Thursday to start work on the Hotel Strand which is undergoing a major renovation to turn the historic building into apartments.

Vitrolite became popular in the early 1900's and was initially used for industrial purposes. Its non-porous surface was attractive for businesses that ranked sanitation as a high priority.

It wasn't until the mid-1920s that Vitrolite took off as an attractive and versatile building material and was used in Art Deco and Art Moderne architectural styles. It was used primarily for interior and exterior wall surfacing.

"It makes a bold impression to people walking by and window shopping," he said. "That was very important in the 1920s and 30s when people did window shopping."

On the Hotel Strand, Vitrolite was used as the background for the "Carriage Horse Restaurant" signage as well as for the bulkhead (the area below the picture windows at the restaurant). The Hotel Strand was built in 1925.

Vitrolite, unlike masonry unites such as terra cotta, became popular because it would not warp or swell. Nor was the glass highly susceptible to staining, fading or burning. It was impervious to moisture and could easily be maintained and usually cleaned with a damp cloth. It was also adaptable to a wide range of uses and colored to attain brilliant visual qualities.

The Hotel Strand's Vitrolite was maroon agate. Through the restoration process, about 90 percent of the original Vitrolite was salvaged, leaving Dunn with the challenge of providing the missing 10 percent.

'Dunn, 52, started his career as a general contractor, then became a tile setter and, since 1997, has been working exclusively with Vitrolite. Through the years he has accumulated 13 tons of pigmented plate glass, a valuable asset for his business largely because Vitrolite was last manufactured in 1947.

"It lost its place in the world of taste," Dunn said.

However, to Dunn, Vitrolite has a special quality unmatched by anything manufactured today.

"It has a style that is unique," he said. "I'm a little biased, but there is nothing as good as Vitrolite."

Black Vitrolite can be found on the building now housing Park Shoes at the northwest corner of Webster and Locust streets in Chillicothe. The glass is in the bulkhead of the store's exterior.

Vitrolite was a lucrative building material and used as an alternative instead of ceramic, Dunn said.

"It was all the rage," he said, noting that the most popular colors were white and jade green.

Vitrolite was used in homes as well as businesses. Dunn said people choose to restore Vitrolite for historical preservation as well as for the appearance it provides.

In all, there is about 180 square-feet of Vitrolite that Dunn is restoring and replacing at the Hotel Strand.

Dunn said that restoring the Vitrolite is a slow, tedious process and that he planned to complete the project Tuesday night and then move on to do some more work on the Park Shoes building.

Dunn's experience also includes restoration work at the Gem Theatre in the 18th & Vine Historic District of Kansas City in 1997. In that project, Dunn replaced the dust rose Vitrolite pigmented plate glass of the theater's facade.


(photo caption) Tim Dunn paints primer into the front of the Fox Theatre yesterday afternoon, in preparation for the Vitrolite tile he will install to improve the appearance of the building on East Colfax Avenue. Vitrolite is a pigmented plate glass, mechanically ground, that has a mirror finish with no distortion. It was especially popular as an Art Deco material in the 1930s. Dunn is from St. Louis.