J.E. Berkowitz provided glass used in the Liberty Bell Pavilion
J.E. Berkowitz provided glass used in the Liberty Bell Pavilion

For many in the glass industry, the movie “National Treasure” is a favorite to watch—not for the thrill and excitement and mystery, but watching Nicholas Cage hold the bullet-resistant-glass- encased Declaration of Independence.

The movie’s debut in 2004 came only one year after the Charters of Freedom—the Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights and the U.S. Constitution–underwent a historic preservation. PPG’s Starphire glass was used in encasing the Charters of Freedom, housed in the National Archives Building display. PPG donated 1,500 square feet of glass for the project. The 3/8-inch thick Starphire glass was laminated with Solutia’s Saflex® PVB and covered with an anti-reflective coating from Denglass Technologies LLC.

Julie Schimmelpenningh, global applications manager, architectural, for Eastman Chemical, was involved with the project and says it was one of her proudest moments in the glass industry.

“The day they unveiled the new protective cases to the public was as memorable a moment as I can remember in the industry,” she says.

But of course, you can’t believe everything you see on the big screen. As Schimmelpenningh has pointed out, due to its massive weight–about 5.5 pounds per square foot–it’s highly unlikely that Cage could have held the glass-encased documents to shield himself from the bullets.

Glass has also found a home in many other historic sites and monuments. J.E. Berkowitz played a key role in the critical upkeep of several of America’s most venerable patriotic institutions. The family-owned, Pedricktown, N.J.-based company, lists among its projects work done on the Statue of Liberty, as well as Philadelphia’s National Constitution Center and Liberty Bell Pavilion.

The country’s welcoming face to millions of immigrants for more than 100 years, the Statue of Liberty was closed to visitors following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and remained that way until opening its doors again on July 4, 2009.

J.E. Berkowitz L.P. was among the firms that worked tirelessly to refurbish one of America’s most treasured landmarks by helping to re-engineer the existing glass in the crown for structural soundness. The job required adding railings and safety glass to the helical staircase from the top of the pedestal to the crown.

The company’s work is also readily seen at the National Constitution Center, where it served as the glass fabricator, providing acid-etched, low-iron and laminated glass valued at $500,000 to the building that also includes Signer’s Hall, the site where America’s Founding Fathers signed the Constitution in 1787.

The President’s House in Philadelphia was once a site of great importance during our nation’s early days, and DuPont is doing its part with its DuPont ™ Sentry Glass ® to make sure it stays relevant to the American public.

Opened in December 2010, the President’s House Memorial stands right at the entranceway to the Liberty Bell exhibit in Philadelphia’s Independence Park. It was there during George Washington’s presidency that an executive mansion in Philadelphia served as the residence and cabinet meeting place for the new nation.

Toronto-based structural engineering specialist Halcrom Yolles detailed the glass outer shell and

glazing system for the mMemorial, using an open-edged, triple-laminate made with SentryGlas ionoplast interlayer.

The memorial is significant because prior to Washington, D.C. becoming the nation’s capital on July 16, 1790, the country was governed for about ten years from Philadelphia. Signers of the Constitution gathered there, and George Washington moved there in November 1790.


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  1. […] discussions several times over the years. But I did. Just before the July 4th holiday I wrote an article  for USGNN.com™ about the use of glass in historic monuments and sites. Many in the industry […]

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