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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 Man

by Darcy O'Neill

 For Hank Griffith, owner of Mithra Art Glass and self-styled "glass freak," the opaque glass called Vitrolite is a "great material," special for its color and thickness. He prizes his ever-growing collection of salvaged scraps, and hope to incorporate them someday into pieces of art. Yolanda Bolda, a student of interior design, considers her Vitrolite-lined twenties-eara bathroom to be nothing short of an Art Deco masterpiece." But Grace Caporal was not as charmed when she first saw her Vitrolite kitchen in the 1926 house she bought 12 years ago: "It kind of looked like an operation room," she recalls.

 As Griffith, Bolda, and Caporal know, Vitrolite, that opaque glass tile common in fine St. Louis kitchens and baths built or remodeled in the twenties and Thirties, is no longer made. The material, which also faced smart storefronts and lined gleaming movie palace lobbies all over St. Louis, Provided spotless soda shop counters and hygienic lavatory walls, and even decorated the Empire State Building lobby. The glaziers who installed it here and around the United States have long ago retired, taking their knowledge and techniques with them. But two St. Louis craftsmen still restore and replace the distinctive glass tile with their own salvaged stock, keeping intact a look that perfectly expressed the tastes of an earlier era.

 Don Caviecy and Tim Dunn work separately and together, referring business to each other, and helping each other out on the jobs. Dunn admits he learned most of his techniques from Caviecy: "Don was the 'Vitrolite Man" for 30 years," he says enthusiastically of the man he now calls a "surrogate father." Dunn is working in a black-and-white Vitrolite-surfaced bathroom in University City: "The secret is to get it flush," he explains, employing a suction cup used by tile-setters to maneuver a piece just so--its reflective surface would betray a less-than-perfect alignment with its neighbors. He has already pried off each piece, repaired the plaster walls, and heated a bucket of tar-black mastic glue. He now applies the mastic, floats each tile out from the wall with glazing compound, then caulks.

 Cracked pieces will be matched with and replaced by pieces from Dunn's 3,000-4,000 salvaged Vitrolite tiles. (Contractors call him regularly to remove salvageable tile. And Dunn keeps an eye out for opportunities. Once he remodeled a bathroom for free to get the Vitrolite as salvage; and he cleaned out the basement for a widow to get her late husband's stock of Vitrolite; the man had been the owner of an art glass company).

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