A unique brand of multi-colored glass paneling decorates the storefront of Bert's Pharmacy in downtown Hastings, acting both as a modern mirror and a cast of history.
The rectangular, shimmering panels are perfect reflectors of whatever sits near them — including sky, sun and the bright orange sign at Bert's — and they also hearken back to the architectural trends of their era of origin.
The material is called Vitrolite — bright, shiny, 3/8 of an inch thick, and one-of-a-kind.
It was first manufactured in the 1910s and used as industrial tiling until it was featured at an art expo in Paris in 1925 and caught the eye of American designers and architects. Throughout the next three decades, owners of department stores, movie theaters, jewelers and pharmacies like Bert's clamored to incorporate the colorful tiles into their facades.