At the beginning of 2015, the Scottish Stained Glass crew and I travelled all the way to Montrose, Colorado, where a 100-year-old former Masonic temple was in need of restoration. The temple, built in 1911, was home to countless fascinating features; but its centerpiece, and the reason why we made the trip to Montrose, was its amazing stained glass ceiling. We were contacted by the current owner, Yvonne Meek, who’s turning the building into a music event center, The Lark and Sparrow.
Stained glass is generally held together with lead, a very heavy, but very soft, metal. Over time, gravity and oxidation combine to threaten the structural integrity of stained glass, no matter how well it may have been designed in the first place. Such was the case with The Lark and Sparrow’s 48 panel, all-glass ceiling weighing in at just over one ton.
The steel brace bars of the dome have come loose from the lead frame and are now causing the panels to sag inwards. Because of how soft and brittle the old lead has become, entire panels of glass are dangerously close to falling out, and some have already cracked. The tension caused by distorted lead can break the glass, so a restoration is always best performed upon the first sign of buckling or bowing lead.
This is important because in cases such as The Lark and Sparrow’s, where the glass is over a hundred years old, it sometimes becomes difficult to match the color and texture of the new glass with the old so the longer you allow buckling lead to crack your glass, the pricier the restoration.
The restoration process itself consisted of several lengthy stages which required many months for us to perform in our studio. We soaked the original windows in an alkali solution, dissolving old sediment such as cement, and providing the glass with a brand-new sheen.
The panels were then taken apart completely and re-built with new lead, which has been specifically designed to match the original lead but reinforced internally for extra strength not found in the original infrastructure. After four months of work and the effect is stunning. The old ceiling which might have been lost forever will now sparkle for another two hundred years. As you can imagine, Yvonne was delighted to have the work completed in time for the grand opening of The Lark and Sparrow. If you’re ever in Montrose, stop by and check it out.
At Scottish Stained Glass we love restoration projects. Preserving and restoring beautiful works of art gives us a great deal of satisfaction, and I hope the original artists are smiling down upon us.
If your stained glass is in need of a restoration, please give us a call for a free consultation, and let’s get to work.
Contact us anytime at 1-866-846-5758 or email martin (at) scottishstainedglass.com.