Religious & Church Stained Glass
Part of our mission here at Stained Glass San Antonio is to preserve the ancient art form that we hold so dear to our hearts. Our company’s roots reach back to Glasgow, Scotland, the stained glass capital of the world. Our owner, Martin, is from Glasgow and has his very own collection of antique stained glass. Stained glass windows are becoming increasingly rare, and we see their preservation as a matter of upmost important.
That’s why when we get the opportunity to work on a restoration project for particularly old or historic stained glass windows, it’s very exciting to us. Just recently, such an opportunity came our way when the members of the historic Vernon A.M.E. Church in Tulsa asked us to be part of the restoration of their antique stained glass windows.
About the Vernon A.M.E Church
If you’re not familiar with Tulsa’s history, it may be helpful to have some background information. In the year 1921, a terrible riot broke out when an angry white mob stormed an affluent African American community known as “Black Wall Street.” Several buildings were burned to the ground and many people lost their lives. One of the few remaining structures was the Vernon A.M.E. Church. A group of residents were able to escape the riots and take shelter in the church basement. If it had not been for the church, it’s likely that they would not have survived.
After the event, the church rebuilt using their own money. Fast forward several years later and they are still holding regular services. Additionally, the church also gives out free meals to the local homeless population.
Restoring the Historic Stained Glass
A set of beautiful stained glass windows were added to the church in 1928 during its period of reconstruction after the massacre. Unfortunately, no protective covering was placed over the stained glass, so like many of their kind, the windows suffered damage from exposure to the elements over the years.
Upon inspection, we determined that all 130 stained glass panels would need some form of repair. Approximately 700 of the 5,000 individual pieces of glass would need to be replaced entirely. The window frames were also in poor condition and needed to be redone completely.
A local mill was hired to create new window frames. Meanwhile, we acquired the assistance of a stained glass manufacturer in the U.S. that was able to recreate the damaged pieces. A special formula was used to ensure that they were replicated exactly according to the color, density, and texture of the original glass.
While the new glass was being produced, we repaired as many of the panels as possible using the salvageable pieces. Doing this allowed us to meet the church’s tight deadline which was only six months down the road. Then, when the new pieces arrived, we restored the rest of the stained glass panels.
In addition to restoring the deteriorating windows, we also create a new memorial window. This was used to replace a window that was missing. We estimated the value of this window to be about $25,000 but we gave it to the church free of charge as a gift.
To finance the project, the church held a fundraiser. The event was quite successful and several anonymous donors stepped forward, making the repairs financially feasible.
The final step of the project was to add a protective covering over the windows. We produced a covering for each window that matched the size of the stained glass. Then, the two pieces were inserted together as a single unit so as to prevent the covering from protruding outward and altering the appearance of the historic building.
When the project was finished, the stained glass looked fantastic and the church members were delighted. The pastor was so overcome with joy that he even kissed the stained glass windows! For us, it was an incredible experience to be able to give back to this noble institution and the local community.
For more information on this project or our stained glass restoration services in general, please contact our office.