EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 30, 2013

In a new light

Historic church windows get $24,000 facelift

By Yadira Betances
ybetances@eagletribune.com

---- — NORTH ANDOVER — When Pastor Rich Knight looks at the stained-glass windows adorning his historic Trinitarian Congregational Church, he sees something both decorative and spiritual.

“They are awe-inspiring in their own right because of the beauty they reflect,” Knight said. “The light (that) comes through the windows is a manifestation of how the light of Jesus works in our lives.”

That light will shine anew, with even more color, now that the 80-year-old windows are being restored to all their former glory by stained-glass expert Paul Prue of Haverhill.

Though built in 1865, Trinitarian Congregational Church’s windows were installed in 1933 — the creations of the famed Charles Connick Studio of Boston.

“Connick was a master, he would come personally to the church to see the structure and make suggestions for the amount of light,” Prue said.

More than 20 years ago, the windows were covered with an exterior protective over glaze that has now aged and turned yellowish-gray. Prue said some churches use this glaze for damage control, maintenance and to protection from the elements.

“These windows are in good shape. I just had to clean the outside and replace the plexiglass,” Prue said.

The stained-glass windows at Trinitarian Congregational feature a Gothic design with motifs at the center, mostly floral.

“They’re a beautiful blend of blues, gold and purple. They all look the same from a distance, yet each one is unique, a lot like people,” Knight said.

Trinitarian Congregational Church’s windows are very special, featuring painted glass.

“This is a long, lost art,” Prue said. “The enamel is painted on clear glass to whatever design they choose and each layer is fired in a kiln to 200 degrees which becomes permanent on the glass.”

“I like painted windows because as an artist on glass, I can appreciate what those artists did,” Prue said.

Knight said church members discovered the painting a few years ago, when someone took used cleaning product on a small portion of a window and started rubbing off its design.

“With some elbow grease the paint can be removed,” Prue explained.

He’s fixing any damage to the paint, ensuring the windows will be enjoyed by many future generations of the church. Trinitarian Congregational has many historical treasures to safeguard, including a 145-foot-tower bearing a clock made by the E. Howard & Co. and a church bell cast by the Henry N. Hooper & Co. both of Boston.

“The challenge is even greater in tight economic times, but Trinitarian Congregational Church is deeply committed to the proper historic preservation of its building,” Knight said.

The $24,000 restoration will be paid for with the help of several local foundations, thanks to the work of the congregation.