20907 Acorn Ave. Milton, Iowa • 641-675-3740
Conservation And Preservation Of Stained Glass Nationwide
Pilot Mound - New Alter Lighbox Mt. Pleasant 16' dome restored Walford United Methodist Church - Alter Lightbox

Hershey's Studio Offers Diversity

Top Left: Pilot Mound United Methodist Church "The Good Shepherd" 72'' wide by 92'' high
Top Center: Mt. Pleasant Henry County Courthouse 16' dome
Top Right: Walford United Methodist Church - Alter lightbox designed and constructed using smaller panels from an old church

Stained glass windows have been admired and appreciated by people since they were first incorporated into the architecture of the early European churches. Whether a decorative transom window in a stately Victorian home or a layered Tiffany window in a church, stained glass always causes one to stop and admire the beauty and the artwork involved in these works of art in glass.

As previously discussed in last year¹s restoration issue, stained glass windows are usually in some state of deterioration with many needing some form of proper restoration. An example of a challenging project during this last year involved the restoration of the stained glass windows at the Presbyterian Church in Traer, Iowa. The majority of the windows needed a complete releading while a few needed only some general repairs to stabilize the window. The biggest challenge of this job involved the three large windows on the altar side of the church. At one point in time, not that long after the windows had been originally installed in the church, a large pipe organ had been placed on the back of the altar. Enclosed around the organ was an oak partition with access doors. Because of this, these three altar windows were completely blocked from view from the inside of the church. The center window had been boarded up prior to the installation of the pipe organ and the two other windows had old wood and glass window frames installed on the inside of the windows.

Over the years various incidents, including severe weather, had caused damage to the windows. Several makeshift repairs had been made as evidenced by the broken bits of stained glass found on the inside of the window sills. Sometime during the early 1960’s, plastic storm coverings were put on the stained glass windows. Proper storm coverings require proper ventilation to help stabilize and protect the window. The storm coverings we found on this church had no ventilation and actually caused the deterioration of the stained glass to accelerate.

Over the years the plastic storm coverings had become hazed. In fact, the hazing was so severe that the stained glass windows were barley visible from outside of the church. When the old storm coverings were removed, there were several church members present to watch. Many were long time members and could not remember what the windows looked like. To their surprise, the middle window displayed a detailed crown and cross with many intricate pieces of stained glass and a number of colored jewels. Unfortunately, the windows were in a serious state of disrepair with the middle window bulged to the point that the bottom half was barely in the wood frame. These three altar windows were by far in the worst condition in the church and quite possibly some of the most severely damaged windows that we have restored.

The center window provided an excellent challenge and to the delight of the members of the church, the window was returned to Traer and installed completely restored to its original condition. One of the more satisfying aspects of our work is seeing the faces of our customers when they see their precious windows returned to them in their original beauty.

One small job involved the beveled glass sidelight window shown in the photo. This window was one of two windows on the main entry way for a turn of the century house in Mahaska County. One of these windows was the unfortunate victim of vandalism as the person who broke into this home did so by kicking in the bottom half of the window. The damage was severe with 14 of the original bevels being damaged or missing. This included a small curved piece of beveled glass. There was also considerable damage to the zinc came. With much patience, and the proper equipment, new bevels were ground and polished at the studio to match the originals. The final result was a beveled glass window restored to its original appearance and another happy customer.

One architectural feature that we receive calls for from time to time involves restoration on stained glass domes. Although not a common feature in Iowa buildings, there are a number of these structures around the state. They are mainly found in libraries, courthouses and sometimes in churches. These domes require special care as the panels themselves are curved. Because of their location in the building, removal and installation requires special set ups with scaffolding and also extra stabilization for safety as many of the domes are 40 or 50 feet high.

Other special services provided by Hershey Studio include the design and fabrication of all types of new windows. The window shown at Pilot Mound is a Hershey Studio design. The challenge for this church came from fabricating two new windows using the glass and basic design from three old windows that one church member had stored in a garage. The center altar window features a large number of painted glass pieces with the overall pattern designed to follow the pattern in the old windows.

Individual specialty windows, like the one designed and built for the Farm House Fraternity at Iowa State University, are always welcome. We enjoy the challenge of designing a specialty window from scratch to incorporate the ideas of the customer. By using original sketches and the latest CAD program, almost any design or pattern can be made.

Hershey Studio is a full service stained glass studio and one of only two studios in Iowa that is accredited by the Stained Glass Association of America. Kevin Hershey is the owner and manager of this business. He and his employees are precise and very particular in regard to the methods used and the work performed during restoration projects and on new windows. These work habits directly reflect the high quality of the work produced at this studio. Kevin is in direct contact with all aspects of each individual project. This insures that all processes performed are carried out to his satisfaction. Whether fabricating new stained glass windows or restoring century old windows, Hershey Studio’s high standards insure a quality job.

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