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Restoration of stained-glass window at former Knox Church begins this week

Work has begun this week at the former Knox Presbyterian Church in downtown Stratford — now Copperlight — to restore the church’s main, Ontario Street facing stained-glass window.

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Passersby may have noticed scaffolding going up at the front of the former Knox Presbyterian Church – now Copperlight – this week as the church’s new owner, BMI Group, begins restoration work on the building’s large, Ontario Street facing stained-glass window.

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On Tuesday, workers with Blair Britton, a heritage-restoration specialist and president of Roof Tile Management Inc. out of Mississauga, began what will be a months-long process – expected to wrap up in January – to remove badly obscured plexiglass and metalworks from the window’s exterior, restore the stained-glass-window framework, clean the window inside and out, and install a new, high UV-rated glass protection that will not fog over time.

“If you’ve ever seen the windows from the outside, they have these metal bars that have been installed, and what has happened was those metal bars, when they installed them, cracked the framing on the inside and over time, with the shifting of the building itself, the framing has just cracked from motion,” said Copperlight general manager Leonard Stannard on Monday, before the work began.

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“So what they’ll be doing when they come in is they’ll be setting up the scaffolding, they’ll be taking off the two layers of storm-window protection that totally obscures the window from the outside, they’ll be removing all the metalwork on the outside that is not necessary and they’ll start repairing the cement (framing).”

In a few spots, Stannard said the cement window frame has cracked and slightly separated. To address that, the workers will realign the framework, drill holes, fill them with a special epoxy and thread a steel rod into them to bring the frame back in line and ensure it holds.

“I actually found something that referred to an engineer many, many years ago that looked at (those metal bars) and said that should not have been done because it weakened the structure as a whole,” Stannard said. “The church was rebuilt (after part of it burned down in 1913) and rededicated in 1915. When the steel bars went in the windows, I believe was in the 1970s. They thought they would need to stabilize it and add a covering to the window for storm protection, but they didn’t.”

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An outer layer of thick plexiglass was also later added to protect the windows from outside elements. However, because it wasn’t vented, over time Stannard says moisture built up between the window and the plexiglass, which ultimately got dirty and became stained, obscuring the windows to those looking at them from outside. The plexiglass layer has also deteriorated over time to the point where a piece actually fell off.

“We’re (restoring) the largest window, the one with the most significant damage to it, first,” said Paul Veldman, the BMI Group managing partner who is spearheading restorations and renovations at Copperlight. ” … Really the point is to bring that visual back to the front of the church. … So not only is this (window) in the worst condition, the way that it was repaired is now a life-safety issue.”

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While Veldman, his team and the contractor will begin with restoring the church’s largest stained-glass window, they will eventually take what they learn from that project and use the same process to restore Copperlight’s eight other stained-glass windows.

Veldman said the restoration of the first window is expected to cost in the area of several hundred thousand dollars, however he expects it to be the most costly of the windows he intends to restore.

“What we’re doing here is taking a first step (toward restoring) the first window of many, so we certainly hope that others in the community will join from a financial point of view,” Veldman said, noting that BMI and the Copperlight partners have plans to launch a fundraiser to help pay for the window restorations as well as some quality of life upgrades to the church including electrical upgrades, new heating and ventilation systems, kitchen upgrades and more.

“This is project of preservation and also of increased access to the building. So we’re always looking for folks who want to positively contribute and be part of that process,” Veldman said.

gsimmons@postmedia.com

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Restoration of stained-glass window at former Knox Church begins this week Source link Restoration of stained-glass window at former Knox Church begins this week

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