A Walk Down Memory Lane

Glass Growers Gallery: A Walk Down Memory Lane

Adapted from an article by Wei Bai, Madison Clapper, Olivia Crandall, Destiny Eicher, Megan Kirk

Glass Growers Gallery (GGG) is a beautiful and unique art shop with a 47-year long history in downtown Erie, Pennsylvania. GGG has worked with many highly skilled Erie-based and regional artists to add beauty to the community over the years. It has moved, grown, and expanded offerings significantly since opening the first gallery location back in 1974. GGG has had three primary locations over the years, with the original location being on West 2nd and Plum Street, the second being on Holland Street in a renovated church building, and the current location in downtown Erie at 10 East 5th Street neighboring the Erie Art Museum.

West 2nd and Plum Street

The corner of West 2nd and Plum Streets was where Deborah and John Vahanian first established Glass Growers Gallery in 1974 to showcase their artwork. Up until this point, they had been creating their work from a friend’s garage. The gallery got its name from the art created: stunning glass terrariums made from sheets of glass that were worked into 3-D geometric shapes. Unfortunately, Deborah and John discovered that the creation process was toxic and decided to start featuring other types of art and artists.

A fun fact about the original location is that wood from an old barn that was being taken down in the community was used to decorate the side of the building and bring visual interest to it.

701 Holland Street

1982, Glass Growers Gallery relocated to a renovated church building at 701 Holland Street. This was the gallery’s second location until 1999. The large space, an impressive two and a half stories high, featured unique and beautiful shows such as The History of the Bicycle, The Carousel, International Images, and Women in Transition, as well as featured collections of kaleidoscopes and quilts.  

Current Downtown Location

The third and current location of Glass Growers Gallery is in downtown Erie on East 5th Street. The building has a lot of charm and was originally a fire house. In the heart of Erie, this location features quality and distinction in the form of regional fine art and gifts and made-in-America custom awards and gifts. 

GGG Owners through the Years

Glass Growers Gallery was created in 1974 by Deb and John Vahanian to showcase their artistic creations. After 46 years of dedication, hard work, and love poured into GGG, Deborah Vanahian decided it was time to step away and sell the business. In September of 2020, GGG was purchased by Emily Ernes. Emily’s decision to purchase the gallery was inspired by her motivation to extend her creative mind, connect with the community more deeply, and to live out her entrepreneurial spirit. Emily fell in love with the gallery’s culture and history and is excited for the opportunity to carry on its legacy. Emily graduated with her Bachelor’s degree from Denison University and later obtained her MPA and MBA degrees from Gannon University in Erie and she has enjoyed traveling and working with international students through previous roles in university admissions.

Future Plans

Emily is eager to welcome even more members of the community to enjoy the gallery. She looks forward to having gallery nights and art shop openings again in the near future and is excited to explore other opportunities to grow and evolve GGG. The gallery will continue to provide an inviting atmosphere in downtown Erie that celebrates artists and is welcoming to all who love art.

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