Stained Glass

Union Chapel — North Hampton, NH

We are thrilled to be well under way on an exciting local project. Residents of the Seacoast may recognize, or perhaps even have attended a wedding here. Union Chapel is in the Little Boar’s Head area of North Hampton, NH, beautifully situated between The Fuller Gardens and the open ocean. We are in the process of restoring all 16 stained glass windows, while Bedard Preservation & Restoration is at work preserving the exterior. Check back for updates.

NH State House — Hall of Flags

This has been a fascinating project. During our initial site visit, we assumed the panels were traditional leaded glass. Once we got them back to the studio, we realized they were unlike anything we’ve ever worked on.  

We determined that they were made using a decorative copper alloy that was riveted together. Upon further inspection, we found a thin brass matrix, separating the pieces of glass between the rivets. This kept the glass from cracking during the initial fabrication.

During the documentation process, we discovered that the overlay was stamped with The Metallic Setting Co of Providence RI and a Patent Number 500,587 from April 1894. Working with the Providence Preservation Society, we found an article referencing The Metallic Setting Co and it’s founder, George B. Lee. The article quoted him as wanting to re-establish “line and mass”, that he felt was missing from the decorative arts at that time. His unique approach bypasses the traditional methods of using varying thicknesses of lead cames or flanges.

He invented an entirely new alloy to accomplish his vision. The article also referenced his other commissions, Abbey’s Theater on Broadway in NYC and Keith’s New Opera House in Boston. Tragically, both theaters have since been demolished. The Metallic Setting Company disappeared from the Providence directory by 1897, so the NH State House may be only window that has survived.

With this knowledge in hand, we decided the best course of action was to leave much of the metal work intact. The cracked glass along the edge could be replaced by cutting the perimeter alloy. But any attempt to replace cracks in the interior of the panels would likely result in causing more damage. Additionally, the original glass selection was so purposeful, with individual pieces of glass selected from specific areas of the sheet. All the panels slowly transition from the darker perimeter glass to the light of the interior. It’s a beautiful effect.

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The original putty that acted as a weathertite seal between the alloy had become brittle and was falling out. The remaining putty was removed and new putty was applied to both the interior and exterior sides of the panels. Once cured, this process also strengthens the overall window, making individual pieces part of a collective whole.

Now that the panels were restored, we turned our attention to the frame. The original steel frame was installed into the jamb with only a few narrow stops holding it in place — there was no perimeter frame. This caused the frame to flex in windy conditions, weakening the joints. After being exposed to those conditions for the last 125 years or so, the structural integrity of frame had become weakened to the point of nearly falling apart. We engaged Sona Welding of Eliot, ME to fabricate a new stainless steel perimeter frame and weld it to the original. After a re-sizing, the panels fit perfectly. Upon installation, the frame was dramatically stiffer with much less play. We these improvements, the Hall of Flags window likely won’t need another restoration for over 150 years.

We were all thrilled to have been part of this project. We know we are just a part of the continuum of craftsmen and women who have come before us, but it has truly been an honor to help uphold the original beauty of the NH State House.

New Hampshire State House

COMING SOON: A full rundown of a project we are excited about in the studio. It’s the restoration of a historic window for the NH State House. See below for removal pics of the beauty that welcomes visitors to the Hall of Flags.

BACK BAY PIANO WINDOW

This was a great project from the past that I never got around to posting. I loved this little window, right on Beacon Street in the Back Bay. My client called it her piano window. (It was directly above her piano.) I don’t know if that’s a technical term, but I like it regardless.

Porter Square Windows

I am working with a client that owns multiple building in Cambridge MA. We have set up a multi phase restoration plan for her windows. I have completed the minor restoration on two units. The first only required an extensive onsite cleaning, putty, and re-glazing. The difference is striking.

The second set are double hung stained glass panels in a stairwell. Luckily, they are higher up the wall then normal and have escaped extensive damage. There was some slight deflection on the lower border that needed to be addressed.

The panels were cleaned, puttied and glazed.

Another future project will be fabricating new stained glass panels to replace the originals that were lost. We were able to find archival photos of the home at the Cambridge Historical Society that showed the original Oriel windows. We designed new windows that are an excellent match to the originals.

Somerville Sister Windows

I was contacted by a client after 2014’s ice dams. Remember those? After having their home inspected for damage, the condition of the windows and sashes became apparent. A fairly normal combination of neglect and years of homeowner repair needed to be addressed. There were signs of serious deflection (when the window is bowing out or collapsing onto itself). But except for two sashes, it was all repairable. The work involved fabricating two new sashes to match the original wood and profiles. All the missing and cracked glass was replaced with nearly exact matches to the original glass. This can be one of the most time consuming parts of the job, finding the correct color and texture of the existing glass. Previously, painters had siliconed and painted over the border glass, completely obscuring these parts of the windows. All of this was removed. The windows were puttied, cleaned and re-glazed into newly painted sashes. They should be problem free for another 80 years or so.

When the sun is out, it shines through my rejuvenated stained glass window in such a brilliant way. The colors dance! What a difference your careful attention has made.

Belcher Mosaic Windows

This was an interesting project. A high Victorian in Newton, MA had some original mosaic windows made by Henry Belcher, some time between 1950-65 (we’re guessing.) Belcher constructed these by sandwiching tiny pieces of glass between layers of asbestos and then pouring lead over it to create a lead matrix. It was an experimental technique that ultimately proved to be problematic. When I went to see the windows, glass pieces were literally falling out of the sashes. Once the windows were back in my studio, they took 6 weeks just to flatten out. I was able to stabilize them but I needed to find a way to keep the glass from falling out again. After a lengthy consultation with the owner — whose desire to preserve the windows did not come with a limitless budget— we landed on a solution wherein I used clear, conservation grade sheets of laminate, adhered to the exterior of the window. It was a time-intensive approach that supported the window without sacrificing the view. More importantly, the windows are back in their rightful place and the client is thrilled.

Middle Street Restoration

An outdated and neglected home on Middle Street is being brought into the 21st century. It’s new owners are proving themselves to be stewards of preservation by retaining many of the home’s unique and historic details while updating others. The original stained glass windows were in need of repair. One major piece of one of the panels had been smashed some time ago and one piece was missing. Through a process known as Edge Gluing, I was able to mix powdered pigment into conservation grade silicone to infill the missing glass. The damage is hardly noticeable and the window has regained nearly all of its original glory.

It was a relief discovering someone of your talent and attention to detail to repair our stain glass windows. 

As you know when it comes to something over a 100 years old you have to trust the individual doing the work will do a good job and maintain the historic integrity of the piece while at the same time doing everything in their power to preserve the windows for future generations. i feel fortunate to have stumbled onto you and was very pleased with the job you completed.

And to anyone out there considering Tom you will not find a more honest and talented craftsman, I highly recommend him. 

— Richard M. Cyr & Lisa DeStefano