By Anne Marie Amacher
DAVENPORT — Stained glass windows, whether from the 1800s or today, add a depth of beauty or tell a story.
The Olde St. Ann’s Church in Scott County Park near Long Grove is an example of a church whose windows are being restored to their original beauty. At the other end of the spectrum St. Anthony Parish in Davenport is ready to open its new parish hall with new stained glass windows.
When St. Anthony Parish’s hall is dedicated March 28 by Bishop Martin Amos, those entering the front doors will see stained glass windows of St. Anthony and St. Joseph. In addition, three stained glass windows above the doors replicate windows in the existing, adjacent church.
“It’s a blending of old and new,” said parishioner and building planning committee member Michelle Russell.
In the studios of Glass Heritage in downtown Davenport last week, employees were working on various stained glass windows. The glass body of St. Anthony awaited detail painting. The face and lily for St. Joseph’s window were in the kiln. Pieces of sky for the St. Joseph window were being cut.
The two smaller windows to be installed above the main entrance were finished and perched against a light table while employees pieced together the larger window sections.
“We’ll be done by the dedication,” said owner Pat Rogers.
Jimi Lee, shop manger/supervisor, was hand cutting each piece of glass with a blade. No special tools to make the curves of the glass, just a steady hand.
Erika Rogers, artist and painter, was cutting templates out of paper for Lee before returning to the hand painting of St. Anthony and St. Joseph windows.
Glass Heritage employees had visited the church to view the existing stained glass windows and statues and to photograph statues of St. Anthony and St. Joseph. They climbed into the choir loft to take pictures of a window they needed to replicate.
As part of the design process, Rogers said they did research on St. Anthony and St. Joseph. “We have several volumes on saints’ lives, Christian art and iconography. We do a little research online too,” she noted.
The staff found a story about St. Anthony talking to fish since the people in the Italian town where he was preaching wouldn’t listen to him. “That was a great story,” Rogers said. So it is featured in the window. St. Anthony is shown standing on the shore as two fish and a turtle appear out of the water.
St. Joseph, the foster father of Jesus, is depicted with tools since his trade was carpentry.
“We came up with ideas, presented it to (the building committee), listened to their feedback and presented a final pattern.” Then the Glass Heritage staff created life-size drawings of the windows and selected the glass sheets to put them on.
When all of the glass is cut, painted and heated in the kiln, the lead, soldering and weatherproofing are done. After a thorough cleaning, the windows are installed.
Among its other projects, Glass Heritage is rehabilitating windows — dating back to the late 19th century — for historic Olde St. Ann’s Church in Scott County Park. Formerly a Catholic church, it is now used for non-Catholic weddings.
Another project Glass Heritage has worked on with a Catholic connection is the stained glass window in the adoration chapel of Christ the King Chapel at St. Ambrose University in Davenport. Based on a drawing of the late Father Edward Catich, an art professor at St. Ambrose, the window features the image of Christ in 20th century street clothes. Four figures representing the four Gospels were painted in the corners.
Glass Heritage also does work for churches of other faiths and secular work as well. Employees are currently restoring a Grant Wood window in Cedar Rapids. They have also done windows in a courthouse. The business also creates glass vases, light fixtures and other items.