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Don't abandon or throw out your church's heritage!

Ways To Reuse Stained Glass From The Old Church In A New Building

It is not unusual when a congregation is planning a new church building for it to be faced with the question "How can we use our historic sacred glass in the new building?".

Unfortunately, the church often concludes incorrectly or is wrongly advised that its old stained glass must be left behind when it moves into its new facility.

However, there are many options available for the use of these windows. David Wixon & Associates is available to explore specific ones with our client and to explore the costs and implications of various alternatives pertaining to their particular circumstances. To begin, here a a couple of suggestions.

Frequently, when a church has old windows that they do not know how to utilize in a new building, it is for one or more of the following unsupportable reasons for not using old stained glass in new buildings.

1. The architect does not want to use the old windows.

Too much trouble, they don't fit the new architectural style, they conflict with his/her artistic vision, and similar excuses. Most of these reasons can be boiled down to the simple fact that the architect is not familiar with stained glass and/or does not want to be bothered with that old stuff.

If this glass is important to your congregation, you should definitely insist on its use somewhere, somehow.

2. The old glass is considered unsalvageable.

It is often true that the old stained glass may not be in good condition. However, we have found that in almost all circumstances it can be restored. In the process we can also remodel it so that it ends up a different size or shape, too. The cost to do this is unlikely to exceed the cost of new stained glass and, in the long run, is worth investing in over just plain glass in any new window openings.

3. It is assumed that all stained glass must have a natural light source.

In fact, even where no actual window opening to the outside exists, it is possible to install stained glass and to illuminate it artificially.

Artificial lighting has some extra advantages. The window can be lit so that it can be seen from the interior after dusk. With artificial lighting it is also possible to turn the window off at any time so that where it is located can be darkened for such things as dramatic productions or image projection on to a screen.

4. Stained glass of any kind is assumed to be fragile.

This need not be the case. A stained glass window well made and in good condition is by itself strong. And, materials now exist that can be attractively and inexpensively mounted in front of or in back of the window that will further protect it from vandalism from the outside and such things as bouncing basketballs from the inside.

5. Stained glass is wrongly assumed to be a poor insulator.

However, a stained glass window in good condition will not leak air or water. It will be same as any other single glazed window.

If insulation is a concern in your environment, attractive and economic frames can be part of your new building that will hold both the stained glass and a layer of secondary glazing. Is is usually also possible to add this to a building at a later date although we recommend a frame built to hold secondary glazing be installed in the church at the time it is built. J. Sussman, Inc., is a good source for these kind of frames. They may be contacted at http://www.jsussmaninc.com/Windows.htm.

6. For whatever reason, there may be no window openings in the new building.

As mentioned before, a window opening to the outside is not necessary in order to use the stained glass.

7. The window openings are not the same size and/or shape of the old windows.

We can remodel the window in an appropriate manner for the opening you have for them.

8. Your church may assume that there is nobody available to help them accomplish its objectives.

Not so. We are capable and available to assist you. We can remove or supervise the removal of the old windows, redesign them if they need to be remodeled to a new shape or size, restore them, and install them. We can also assist in determining the frame or lighting specifications so that the restored windows can be mounted safely, securely, economically, and attractively

Here are some examples of how we used old windows in other churches.

Batavia Evangelical Covenant Church, Batavia, IL

Before the installation of stained glass this plain chanel wall lacks focus.  The sanctuary just stops abruptly at the wall.To the left is what the front of the new church looked like for nearly 30 years. The chancel wall which lacks any focus point is not an outside wall. Behind it is a stairway and a loft used to store all kinds of stuff and various sound equipment.

This is one of the miscellaneous windows that the church salvaged from its old building.
When the business occupying the old church building was in the process of remodeling, they offered some odds and ends windows left over around the building to the church. One of them is pictured at the right.

As part of the new church remodeling program, we designed an opening and built a custom frame for a large window ensemble to be placed on the chancel wall. Installation of the frame is shown below.

We install a custom frame in a brand new opening for the restored old stained glass.

The picture below is the beautiful and inspiring result of our remodeling project. The finished window is artifically lighted. The window is a close replica of one like it that had been in the original church but had been destroyed long ago. Many of the older church members wondered where we had found it. It is actually made up of miscellaneous salvaged old hallway, closet and Sunday School room windows.

This is the way the church looks now after we recreated its historic great window using salvaged glass from the old building.  The wood panels in the center are doors leading to an existing stairway and also serve as emergency exits.

Calvary Church (Assembly Of God), Naperville, Aurora, IL

We created the new stained glass window shown below for a windowless auditorium in a brand new church building.
Installation is just about complete for this inspiring stained glass window that is installed on an inside wall.
The stained glass is in a custom frame we built above the Baptistry 3 levels above the main floor.

An opening is being prepared for stained glass that will be artifically illuminated.

We designed and built this custom frame especially made for stained glass.

The same kind of installation and lighting arrangements could also be made with old stained glass windows your church may have.

The church also wanted a more intimate chapel for "marrying and burying" that would utilize its old stained glass. However, the architect made no provision for and resisted the transfer of their old stined glass to the new building. Even though construction was well along, we were able to adapt lots of old glass to the new building.

This picture below shows the glass from the front of the original old frame church. It is on the chancel wall of the chapel and serves as a perfect background for weddings, funerals and small group meetings.

This beautiful chancel window was moved from its original location in the old church.We removed and restored the original windows and provided the custom oak frames they are now installed in. The windows are illuminated by lights that can be dimmed or brightened as appropriate.

We also removed old aisle lancets along with their ventilator panels for use in free-hanging oak frames in front of the clear glass in the new chapel aisle windows. Some of these are shown below. The difference between the plain and the enhanced windows is obvious and significant.

One of the fully remodeled and restored old lancets from the original church building.

The new plain windows are greatly enhanced by mounting the stained glass from the original church building in front of them.

We also provided the strong and attractive Gothic style wood frames for the restored windows. The windows are enhanced by joining the upper lancet with the previous lower ventilator panel so the resulting panel is larger and better proportioned for the new opening.

Other Options

Some other ways that your historic glass might be used could be the following.

Some of the old glass could be adapted and used in entryways as sidelights or transoms. They could be used, perhaps joined together, as a divider or partition. They could be used against larger windows to the outside in church offices or Sunday School rooms. They could be illuminated at various locations in a narthex area or in a Sunday School hallway. They could be used in smaller meeting spaces such as a chapel, library or prayer room.

It should be evident that there are lots of ways a congregation could "work in" its old glass into the new church facilities. And, by doing so, it will help to establish the purpose of the building. In other words, the old sacred stained glass will help distinguish the new building from a school auditorium or theater. It will also bring the identity and heritage of the church along into the new space.

We are available to discuss your present church glass situation and to explore ways with you in which your old stained glass might be utilized in your new church facilities. Please contact David Wixon & Associates to make arrangements so you can make the best decisions for your church, your new building and your historic sacred glass.

And, most fittingly, congratulations to your congregation on its growth and vitality that require and support the new building construction program in the first place.