Restoring the Font/Ark Window

The Font/Ark window was the first window in the repair/restoration cycle completed in early 2008 and planned in the second half of 2007. It was our first restore job as the problems of the window were serious. Time was also a key factor based on the events occurring at the time.

The backdrop of this window was the beginning of the Nave renovation in 2007 which had been planned since 2002. The renovation would cover three areas of the church- Family Room underneath the Nave, the Nave itself and the McGuire wing with an addition of a third floor creating a music room.

It would involve Font/ark located on the west wall of the church, facing Princess Anne Street and behind the existing organ. The west wall led east to an arch which began the gallery. The arch had been been bricked for several years with three doors leading to the interior. The arch was 17 feet tall and 6 bricks wide. The arch’s infill had to be taken out to handle the new organ and its case. With the opening of the arch, there was a concern for support. It was planned to be reinforced by tie rods at the spring line.

Early on September, 10, 2007, Nave renovation began with Earl Baughman putting up the “caution” tapes and then removing the ceiling tiles, supports, light and equipment from the Family Room. The Family Room would be closed off until the end of the year for two renovation projects – strengthening the Nave floor and the addition of part of a sprinkler system for the Church.

The work on interior of the church and gallery would begin in mid-January, 2008. The gallery work by itself would involve preparing the gallery on the west side of the church (Princess Anne Street) for a new organ, renovation of the gallery for a new 30,000 pound organ, and the renovation of the gallery floor.

Here is the original look of the gallery taken from the front of the church by Ralph Powell

The organ was removed first after mid-January (Ralph Powell photo):

The window’s condition was serious and time was of the essence to get it out before the interior part of the gallery would be demoed. The vibrations it was feared could collapse the window. There are four pages of pictures.


The following is a movie that Ralph Powell put together that shows the work on the gallery

The window was removed and the gallery interior demoed. It was clear that at one time the gallery was not filled in since the Font/ark window could be seen clearly from the front pews. We don’t know why it was bricked but there is speculation that the addition of a clock (1851) and bell (1858) to the gallery after the construction of the church (1849) that steps were take to strengthen the support of the steeple which included bricking in the arch and improving its support.

Here is a picture after the removal of the window, the addition of the tie rods and the removal of the bricks:

The issues involving the windows were reported by Bovard, a stained glass studio from Iowa after a visit earlier in 2007. Window repair and restoration had not been considered for the Nave renovation project. The windows had no funding from the Nave renovation effort.

After Bovard’s visit, it was apparent we had problems, particularly with our outer coverings. We were not just looking at a company that could help us with this window but we were looking for a longer term relationship for the other windows.

A stained glass committee formed in the fall of 2007 with the goal of a final decision for a contractor in January, 2008, the same month as the church closed for renovation. By Nov. 2007 we have were investigating five companies that could do the work.

We chose Stained Glass by Shenandoah after reviewing 5 companies. The deciding factors were the following:

  • Virginia company – can complete the windows in a 10 year period and can do the work on the Font/Ark window
  • Did not subcontract work 
  • Had depth – 13 employees 
  • Price was moderate – $16,225 Cain $19,000, Lynchburg $22,000.Committee agreed with the company that re-leading was necessary
  • Good references 
  • 10 year warranty 
  • Interview questions were handled satisfactorily

Here was their proposal. (The windows was know by Window #16 at the time)

  • Window #16 – Top panel, panel 3 panel and panel 5 – remove, straighten, re-build, re-brace panel
  • Window #16 – Panel 2 – install additional bracing where necessary
  • Window #16 – Panel 4 – re-brace if necessary
  • Window #16 – Panel 6 – replace broken name plate, replace two pieces of opalescent glass
  • Remove present protective covering and replace with ¼” safety glass installed in an anodized vented aluminum frame.
  • Paint exterior sash. Apply two coats of prime paint.

With re-leading the cost would be just over $16K. The window was paid for by parishioners in the church. The window was removed prior to the demoing of the gallery in April, 2008 to install the tie rods.

A group visited the Shenandoah studio in Front Royal, VA during March, 2008 and reviewed the progress.

The window was successfully renovated and returned to the church prior to the Nave reopening in April, 2009.

In 2010, there was discussion about adding a lightbox to the window. By this time the renovation was complete. (The church has reopened in April, 2009). The window could not be seen from inside the church. It depended on natural light to view the window from the outside.

Early in Jan, 2011 a proposal was received for adding a lightbox which would be placed on a timer. The added cost to the window was $6,840 and was paid for by the same donors:

  • Fabricate a wood frame and in-set into interior window opening
  • Install lighting fixtures along sides for backlighting
  • Install white diffuser to balance light reflection
  • Paint wood surfaces with high reflective white paint
  • Build access doors for bulb replacement

The work was done. Today the lights depict the details of this renovated window: