The Grace Cathedral: Stained & Leaded Glass Condition Survey & Conservation Project is the winner of a 2018 Preservation Design Award. Award recipients are selected by a jury of top professionals in the fields of architecture, engineering, planning, and history, as well as renowned architecture critics and journalists. In making their decision, the jury stated: “This appears to have been a painstaking conservation project. Kudos to the church for committing to such a careful restoration. Good job! This is a model project for this category.”
The Award will be presented on Friday, October 19, 2018 at a gala dinner and awards ceremony at Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. Tickets and sponsorship options are available at californiapreservation.org/awards.
About this project
Grace Cathedral hired local Bay Area company, Nzilani Glass Conservation, to survey and subsequently conserve many of their stained glass windows. The project is significant as there had never been a comprehensive survey amassed into a single document which the Church could quickly reference to make informed decisions to move forward in conservation work. It was also the first time some windows had been completely conserved, rather than the stop-gap measures done previously. Most importantly for historic research, the two oldest leaded windows, The New and Old Testament (1931 and 1932 respectively) were conserved in the order the original windows were installed. Each window has the identical configuration of 303 panels comprised of lancets and decorative tracery, spanning approximately 570 square feet. Conserving them in the same order and back to back over 2015 – 2017 provided valuable insight to what the original Connick Studios chose to keep or change from one window fabrication to another. Key discoveries were: the same numbering systems created by both the original and conservation companies independent of each other, and improvements to the installation system between the New and Old Testament. Since no fabrication documentation was originally given to the church and Connick Studios is now defunct, these discoveries shed light on the original studio’s practices. These can be applied to the rest of the church as well as other churches with Connick windows as studios tend to maintain similar naming conventions once established. Conservation of the Quire windows revealed use of over 10 types of lead came, some with offset profiles. This was only revealed when the panels were dismantled.
All the Cathedral and adjoining Choir House leaded, dalle de verre and fused windows were surveyed. The majority were painted, stained and fired colored glass set in traditional lead cames. Created by Connick, Willet and Loire Studios, plus the artists Mark Adams and Narcissus Quagliata the windows date from the 1930’s – 2001.
The aim of the report was two-fold; first, previous past actions and notes were compiled into a cohesive timeline. Second, each window was given a treatment priority level. Timelines (for both immediate and future treatments) were then proposed in a resulting detailed condition survey which was presented in excel spreadsheets, graphics, photographs and a printed book.
From this, the Cathedral made an informed decision to proceed with the complete conservation of the Old and New Testament windows (each 303 panels and 570 square feet) and half of the Quire windows in three phases from 2015 – 2018.
Photos courtesy of Nzilani Glass Conservation, Inc.
Nzilani Glass Conservation, Inc.
Ecobay Services, Inc.