River Hebert church saves a piece of its past
Stained glass window rescued from demolition
The former Trinity United Church may be gone, but the congregation has made sure a piece of it will live on.
The stained glass window from the old church, which was made and installed in 1925, has been restored and added to the current River Hebert-Joggins United Church on the same property, which was formerly the church hall.
The window includes the names of those from the church who served in the First World War, some of whom did not return, and preserving that window was important to the membership, according to member Alan Linkletter.
“It was a hope, but because of the state of the window, we weren’t sure if it was going to be possible,” he said. The window had been in the church’s back exterior wall, exposed to the sun for more than 90 years, and had developed a two-inch wave that Linkletter compared to a “piece of pasta.”
He turned to Neil Delaney of Amherst, who has restored similar windows in the past, and Delaney agreed to take on the job.
“Neil explained to me that the UV from the sun had really deteriorated it, and it had a real wave, so we were afraid it was going to get broke into pieces when we tried to remove it from the other building,” said Linkletter. “But we just felt, because of the significance and because of what it represents ... it’s also a memorial and keepsake for our church and community for future generations.”
Standing at nine-and-a-half feet, and four feet wide, the 1,500-pound window was lifted out with an excavator prior to the building’s demolition last June. It was then laid on the ground nearby, a sight that horrified Delaney when he arrived on the scene.
“When I saw it laying on the ground, I was ready to turn around and go back home,” he said. “I was more than upset. That’s an expensive window. You can’t replace it.”
Delaney worked on the window with his friend Robert Mills from June until October. Nine breaks were repaired, and the wave in the glass was removed. The original wooden frame of the window was preserved, while additional woodwork was built to support its weight inside the sanctuary of the current church.
The biggest challenge was the different thicknesses of glass, according to Delaney, who worked to preserve its value as an antique.
“This window is original, and the only thing new is lead came and putty,” he said. “In order to keep its antique value, I just cemented the glass (breaks) back together. If I had taken a piece of broken glass out and replaced it with modern glass from today, the antique value would be less.”
The end result has been well received by the congregation and community, as it stands in a backlit window shadow box. It catches the eye of anyone who walks into the sanctuary, especially when its new LED lighting is turned on, a feature that gives the appearance of natural sunlight coming through the painted bottle glass of the window.
“People were pretty upset when we took the church down, but by saving this window it’s really put everybody at ease,” said organist Jim Scopie. “If you asked people before the church went down, they said save that window. We never thought we’d even have the money to do it.”
The cost of the project was $6,100.
The church will present a Celebration Hymn Sing on Sunday, May 28, at 7 p.m. as a celebration of loved ones both living and departed.
Neil Delaney (left) and Alan Linkletter with the stained glass window from Trinity United Church, now preserved at the River Hebert-Joggins United Church in River Hebert after a successful restoration project.