Crews expected to finish window soon at St. Lawrence O#8217;Toole Church

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2006

Crews soon are expected to finish restoration of the 16-foot circular stained glass window at St. Lawrence O’Toole Church.

Installed when the church was built in 1892, the center pane of the window features St. Patrick and is the centerpiece of the church. The outer panes depict different aspects of St. Patrick’s life.

The window — which had been replaced with plywood for the past several months — underwent an extensive restoration process in Fairfield, Iowa.

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The window arrived at the church in sections last week and crews have been working 11 to 12 hours a day to get the window pieced together at the site.

It was removed late last year and shipped to Bovard Studio in Fairfield, where crews worked to restore the historic piece. Artists at the studio re-leaded the glass to make it stronger and also built a new frame for the window that includes more than 60 panels for added support — the window used to have 41 panels. The frame is the only thing that is new, according to Rene Holmberg, master craftsman for Bobard; the rest is as it was 115 years ago, only better, he said.

The project has had some delay over the past few days, Holmberg said. But, he said that can be expected when dismantling and then piecing back together a massive work of art on site.

The church’s parish felt the stained glass window’s restoration was something that needed to be done without hesitation, according to Father Thomas Nau. Because of its age, the window had, naturally, begun to show wear and tear, he said.

The other windows in the church have also been in place since its construction, but Nau said they have aged a little better than the St. Patrick window.

According to Holmberg, 90 percent of the work they do is at churches. He said most of the repairs are done to preserve a part of history and for sentimental reasons, as well.

“Really, it’s the same cost to put in a new one as it is to restore the existing one,” Holmberg said. “So, it’s really not the value of the window itself, it’s a matter of perception and what the window means to others.”

Money for the repairing of the window is being paid for in part by donations from parishioners. The Ancient Order of Hibernians, an Irish-American Catholic Fraternal Organization founded in New York in 1836, has given the church a donation for the project, as well.