The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

April 4, 2014

Let the light shine

By Amy Kent Herald Staff Writer
The Clinton Herald

---- — CLINTON — The sun is shining brighter at the St. Irenaeus Cultural Center.

The facility's five-panel, rosette window, underwent a major restoration this week and is now perched back atop the alter in its rightful place.

The rosette restoration was part of a two-phase process at St. Irenaeus aimed to renovate the historic building by the Clinton Historical Society.

Restoring a three-piece window depiction of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ was the first phase, and now that phase two is completed, members of the historical society are breathing a little easier.

"It's a very small step in trying to preserve the building," Historical Society President Don Dethmann said. "We've got so much more to do but the windows needed a lot of attention. It's a relief to know that we have saved those."

In order to bring back the stained glass windows to their original glory, the historical society enlisted the help of Glass Heritage, a company based out of the Quad Cities that specializes in glass restoration.

Glass Heritage owner Adrian English said that while the project was difficult for he and his team, it was an experience of a lifetime.

"Those are probably the oldest windows I have ever touched," English said. "Those have been in since 1871 and the stained glass itself will last for another 75 to 100 years."

The entire project took nearly two years and when English and his team completed the first phase, members of the historical society knew they had to keep the company on board to repair the rosette that sits parallel to the Crucifixion windows on the west side of the building.

In order to pay for the second half of the project, the society sought out donations from the community and were pleased when their requests were met.

"We were lucky that we had a family that underwrote the restoration of the windows," Dethmann said. "We never expected to be able to do this but people have been very generous."

In addition to the donations from the community, the society also received a donation from English to help aid the preservation of the windows.

That donation included an outside covering that protects the window from a variety of different elements.

What's so special about Glass Heritage's outside covering is it comes with ventilation that allows the window to "breath" when it is constantly facing the stress of the harsh sun.

"What it does is protect the window from any weather damage or vandalism," English said. "Our framing also lets the window release pressure. When the heat builds up it builds pressure in the window, so having the outside covering vented allows that pressure to get released and prevents the window from bowing."

Having any kind of assistance in preserving the nationally recognized historic building is something the historical society appreciates considering the work that still needs to be done.

With the majority of volunteers being retirement age, Dethmann said they are not able to accomplish everything they would like in the time they would like to, but added that they continue to work every day to restore this piece of Clinton history.

"We're getting older and more tired but there's still a lot of work to be done," Dethmann said. "We still have a long ways to go but we've also come a long ways."