Church raising glass to art form

SANDUSKY Seasoned restorers deftly removed fragile stained glass from Holy Angels Catholic Church.
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



Seasoned restorers deftly removed fragile stained glass from Holy Angels Catholic Church.

Even so, the Rev. Chris Kardzis wasn't above praying for their delicate touch.Rotting, buckling window frames made it evident the century-old glass needed extraction before it crashed in on itself. As each of 30 100-pound sections was lowered precariously down scaffolding, Kardzis thought a little divine intervention couldn't hurt. "They were concerned that the frame was in such bad condition when they started the work it would collapse," he said. "You don't want to lose something like that."

The 22-foot by 131/2-foot section of windows above the church's Tiffin Avenue entrance has been temporarily replaced with Styrofoam and plywood.

The original artwork on the colored glass won't be changed, but the wooden framework must undergo a major overhaul, said Gene Riedy, head of the church's maintenance committee. Inspections late last year confirmed its dire condition.

The windows were removed in three days in July with assistance from Poremba Stained Glass Studio of Warrensville Heights.

The glass was shipped to the facility, where it will be cleaned and weatherproofed, and missing or broken pieces replaced.

Tyler Young will lead the restoration, which will take three or four days per section.

"It's very painstaking work," he said.

A second-generation company, Poremba's also did restoration work for St. Mary's Catholic Church on Central Avenue and Grace Episcopal Church on Wayne Street.

The $62,260 price tag is expected to be covered by parishioners through a fundraising drive that presently tallies about $44,000.

Kardzis hopes an additional $15,000 necessary to restore the framework will be donated by area businesses. Riedy, a local carpenter, will complete the job.

"No one realized the extent of the rot of the frame, the worst of which is above the windows' Gothic arches," Riedy said.

The window is situated in the original section of the church, which was constructed in 1840. It is the oldest church building in the Diocese of Toledo.

"People are proud of the windows in this church, so they want to take care of what they have," Riedy said.

Restoration won't be complete until fall. Beyond this project, Kardzis foresees restoration of the church's 10 side windows during the next couple of decades. The projected total for that task is $300,000.

"Our goal is not to finish with (this) window," he said. "We will be going step by step."

He has heard from residents who miss the image of the window illuminated after dark.

"That's because it looks gorgeous," he said.