Visiting specialist fixes old-style glass
By RYAN IJAMES
MT. VERNON — Timothy J. Dunn is among a rare breed.
Dunn is a specialist in vitrolite — a structural glass popular in act deco and art moderne styles in the 1920s and 1930s. His company is aptly named Vitrolite Specialist.
What makes Dunn’s work with vitrolite so unusual? Vitrolite hasn’t been produced since 1947.
Dunn was in town the week of Sept. 4-8 replacing the vitrolite facade on the building at 223 S. 9th St.
“There’s a lot of vitrolite in Illinois,” he said.
Being the one of the only experts in vitrolite removal and repair, Dunn stays plenty busy. He travels across America, doing replacement and repair work for structures to keep that classic style. He said that as far as he knows, he has the world’s largest collection of vitrolite — 13 tons.
Storefronts like at the Ninth Street location were commonplace during the 20s and 30s, but as often happens, styles come and go and vitrolite was no exception.
“Things changed after the war,” Dunn said.
In addition to various storefronts, Dunn said the material was also used in many kitchens and bathrooms, as well as in the production of dairy products because it is non-porus and would not absorb bacteria. The material was mechanically ground to make a mirrored finish, he said.
There are about 32 different colors of the material.
He said his mentor, Don Caviece, helped him get started in vitrolite repair.
“He taught me the trade,” Dunn said.
For more information on Dunn and vitrolite, visit www.vitrolitespecialist.com