Hidden Landmarks: Corning Noel

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CORNING, N.Y. (WETM – TV) – The C building, at Corning Incorporated Headquarters in Corning New York, has a deep history.

The office building was built in 1955 and was used as headquarters for the company, then known as Corning Glass Works.

It is also called The Black Box by corning locals.

The building is 9-stories high, one of the tallest buildings in the Southern Tier.

It served as headquarters until 1994, when the new headquarters building opened just across the Chemung River.

Currently, Corning is renovating the interior and exterior of the building. Work began in the first week of March 2018. The new glass exterior is expected to be installed by years end, and work on the interior of the building is expected to be finished in Q3 2020.

The new exterior will look much like the original; high-gloss black glass. Except, the new glass exterior will be electrochromic glass, which is a smart glass for buildings. It offers a variety of control options, including the capability to change from transparent to translucent and vice versa.

For a few years shortly after opening, the building would be lighted from the interior in the shape of a Christmas tree.

Some years after, “NOEL” replaced the Christmas tree.

To spell out “NOEL” employees in C Building were notified who had to leave their office lights on, and who had to shut them off. After the work day, a member of Corning Security would make sure the proper offices were lite of darkened as they made their rounds.

That chore will no longer be necessary as the new electrochromic glass can be programmed to control the office lights.

But the NOEL message isn’t the first time that Corning Glass Works helped out with the Christmas Holidays.

There was a Christmas Ornament shortage that started in the 1930’s.

Until the end of the 1930s, the glass ornament industry centered Germany, where most of the colorful baubles were made by families working from their homes.

Ornaments were mostly lampworked, meaning they were made by hand, with artisans melting glass tubing over a small table-top flame, blowing a bubble into the softened glass and then shaping. They could add color during the shaping process, or the ornaments might be hand-painted once they cooled.

With the world events leading up to World War II, it became difficult to bring ornaments from Germany into the U.S. market. So in 1939, Corning stepped up, employing their ribbon machine technology to automate the process of making and supplying America with glass ornaments.

Production of ornaments occurred part of the year at the Corning plant in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania, where employees churned out 300,000 ornaments a day. Corning decorated and sold some ornaments, but the majority were made for and sold through Shiny Brite.

Corning Glass Works (the former name of Corning Incorporated) produced glass ornaments until 1981. Now, most glass ornaments are made outside the United States.

The Noel sign and the solution to the United States ornament crisis are examples of Corning Glass Works stepping up to help Corning and the rest of the country.

This is an example of people working as a team, to achieve a higher purpose, even if the purpose is just spreading holiday cheer.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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