Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 24, 2008
Local expert begins removing stained glass from seminary chapel
- WCR photo by Glen Argan
Andre Winter displays part of what remains of the window symbolizing the sacrament of Penance, the first to be removed from the chapel of St. Joseph Seminary.
By GLEN ARGAN
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
Andre Winter is happy with what he’s been finding in the walls of St. Joseph Seminary Chapel.
It’s stained glass – more than 40 tonnes of it – and most of it is in good condition despite 50 years of letting the light into the chapel.
“They were very well installed,” Winter said Nov. 18 during a break in his one- to two-week job of removing the glass so that it can be restored, stored and then reinstalled in the chapel of the new seminary.
Winter is finding some small breaks and some bending in the windows, but nothing to cause undue alarm.
He attributes that to the “medieval” approach of installing the windows. Each of the 14, 20-foot long windows on the sides of the chapel is made up of five panels. Each panel sits on a stainless steel frame that bears all the panel’s weight.
That means the only damage is caused by sunlight softening the lead in the window or from movement in the building – none from the weight of one panel sitting on top of another.
“The way these were installed are light years ahead of what you would have expected,” he says.
Winter has been doing this sort of work since he was five. His first “job” was helping his father, Paul, restore the windows in the inner-city Sacred Heart Church after a fire nearly destroyed the church in 1967.
“I was born in the business.”
And although he once had a better-paying job, he came back to the family firm – Winter Art Glass Studio. “Money is not the important thing. You need to enjoy what you are doing.”
The firm has done numerous jobs that are similar in the Edmonton area. It has also done work with stained glass at St. Joseph’s Basilica and is now working at the west side St. Andrew’s Church.
“You’re 30 feet up in the air with a panel that weighs over 200 pounds.”
But if you think it gets easier with time to remove stained glass, think of this – “You’re 30 feet up in the air with a panel that weighs over 200 pounds.”
Handle it carefully and quickly and don’t drop any tools.
Each pane ranges from between one inch to an eighth of an inch thick.
Winter said stained glass needs to be removed and restored at least every 75 to 100 years.
“Now is the time to do it,” he says of the seminary windows . . . before much damage has been done.
The seven large windows on the south side of the chapel symbolize the seven sacraments; smaller windows below signify the seven virtues.
On the north side, the seven large windows symbolize the seven steps to the priesthood in the pre-Vatican II liturgy while seven small windows show the seven deadly sins.
The plan is for those windows to be installed in the same order when the new seminary chapel opens next fall.
The new St. Joseph Seminary is currently under construction on 84th Street at the top of 98th Avenue hill.