Just recently, Scottish Stained Glass, the parent company of Commercial Art Glass, had the opportunity to be part of a particularly rewarding stained glass restoration project for a church located in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The Vernon AME Church is one of the oldest churches in Oklahoma and is one of the most historically significant buildings in the United States. When an affluent African American neighborhood known as “Black Wall Street” was attacked by an angry white mob in 1921, residents of the community fled to the church basement for safety.
Today, the church is valued by the community due to its historic significance as well as the role it plays in helping the local homeless population by supplying daily meals.
Recently, it came to the attention of the church members that the old stained glass windows in the building were in need of repair. They called us to do an assessment and see what could be done to salvage their beloved stained glass and save it from destruction.
Assessing the Damage
We arrived at the church to inspect the windows in person. It was clear that several windows had suffered severe damage due to exposure to the elements. Years of being subjected to harsh wind, rain, and sun had caused them to deteriorate. Acts of vandalism had also exasperated the damage. Some of the windows had mismatched pieces of glass, which was evidence of past attempts to repair them. One window was missing completely. Though the damage was significant, we decided that restoration would be possible.
Repairing the Historic Stained Glass Windows
We began the restoration process by contacting a stained glass manufacturer to make new pieces of glass for the repairs. There were 130 panels that needed repair, totaling over 5,000 individual pieces of glass. 700 of these pieces needed to be replaced completely. The manufacturer was able to produce glass of a matching profile so that the repairs could be completed properly.
Meanwhile, we went to work, removing all of the windows right away. We had only six months to complete the project and needed to work quickly. While the new glass was being manufactured, we used the original glass to repair as many of the windows as possible. Then, when the new pieces arrived, we finished the rest.
Once we were finished, we installed a protective covering over each of the windows. This was inserted along with the repaired panels so as to ensure that each window would remain flush with the exterior and the historic building would maintain the same appearance.
We also created a new stained glass window to replace the missing one. The design was meant to memorialize the events that took place in 1921 and praise the resiliency of the church and community. We gave this stained glass window to the church as a gift.
When the church members saw their newly restored stained glass windows, they were overjoyed with the results. The pastor even kissed one of the windows! The church was also visited by the U.S. Attorney General due to its historical significance.
We are honored to have been a part of this project. It was such a joy to be able to give back to this church who had done so much for the community.
Learn More about Stained Glass Restoration
For more information about this project or church stained glass restoration in general, please do not hesitate to contact our office!