30 December 2009

Emergency Repairs at the Oratory

From the Tradition for Tomorrow blog, news of another reason to prayerfully consider practical assistance in the preservation and restoration of this spiritual and architectural treasure. Due to formatting issues, the photos and some captioning are better viewed at the original site:

Save the Oratory's Stained Glass Windows


Emergency work was ordered and performed on the stained glass windows on the north side of the Oratory this Christmas.

One of the consequences of the shifting foundation of the church tower is the cracking in the masonry and the bowing of the historic stained glass windows of the church. The windows most seriously affected are the ones on the north side, on the right side of the choir loft. Unfortunately, the structural damage of the windows has reached a point where it is now necessary to remove the stained glass segments in order to save them.

Detail of damaged stained glass window
Detail of damaged stained glass window, showing daylight streaming through the opening created by the bowing of the wondow.


Exterior view of bowed stained glass

Exterior view of the bowed window.
Due to compressive stress exerted on the main church building by the tower whose foundation has shifted, one of the stained glass windows has been seriously affected. The metal support of the stained glass artwork has been bent outward over time, resulting in a gap in the seam. Immediate intervention is necessary to maintain the integrity of the window and to salvage the irreplaceable artwork.

After removal, the stained glass sections will be carefully stored, and the large openings in the window covered with painted wood for the time being. Complete restoration of the stained glass windows cannot take place until the tower foundation is stabilized. In addition, extensive work is now needed to reinforce the terra cotta columns with horizontal steel bars to maintain its stability.

The stained glass artwork in St. Francis de Sales Oratory was made by Emil Frei, Sr., who immigrated to the United States from Bavaria, Germany, in the late 1800s. The stained glass creations overseen by several generations of the Frei family is renowned throughout the country. Stephen Frei, the great-grandson of the man who designed and made these windows at St. Francis de Sales, is now managing the removal and repair of the windows. We are indebted to Emil Frei Associates, Inc. for their dedication to find an innovative solution to preserve these windows until future repair may take place. The permanent restoration of the stained glass windows will begin only when the tower foundation is stabilized.

Stained glass, interior view, MAbeln


Current interior view of the affected window from the choir loft in the church, showing the beautiful Emil Frei artwork backlit by daylight.

While the stained glass sections are in storage awaiting restoration, temporary wood inserts will be used to cover up the opening.

This view of the stained glass window will not be seen again until the tower foundation is stabilized.



All photos courtesy of Mark Abeln of Rome of the West.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

We often are in the choir loft and the window pictured has a
hole large enough that I can put my adult hand into it. On one dark and stormy night the water just poured in and we stood there with a mop and bucket ready to sop rainwater up.

just wondering said...

so tell us how we can help or where to send money that will go toward the repair of the windows.

thetimman said...

Contact info for the Oratory is at the link. You can also just call the rectory at (314) 771-3100.