| Jun 18, 2009

Back to HomeFeature Article - June 11, 2009 Saving part of their heritageBy Julie Druker

Photo Left: Gayle Robertson and Brenda Crawford are hoping to save the original windows at St. Paul’s United Church in Harrowsmith

It won’t be the first time that the congregation at St. Paul’s United Church in Harrowsmith has banded together to help to preserve their heritage building.

Back in 1919, when the original wood frame church that once stood at the corner of Notre Dame and Church streets could no longer house its growing congregation, the newer limestone beauty was built.

The new church underwent a major renovation in the late 1990s, roughly 10 years ago. At that time all of the exterior limestone was re-pointed, the leaking roof and ceiling were replaced, the main sanctuary was opened up, re-floored and carpeted and a new valance and cross were built. Two new wheelchair accessible washrooms were constructed and an elevator was even installed.

While a large part of the funding for that project came from a substantial government heritage grant, the congregation was also required to match the granted funds, which they did wholeheartedly. Able-bodied church members put in countless volunteer hours doing much of the physical work.

Now roughly 10 years later, it is the church’s 14 stained glass windows that are in need of repair. Brenda Crawford, who is heading up the fundraising campaign for the window restoration explained, “The windows are the original windows and we noticed just in the last 2 years that though they are still very beautiful, unfortunately they are no longer very stable. They’re very pliable and have started bowing out. We are hoping to be able to raise the funds to replace all of them.”

Gayle Robertson, chair of St. Paul’s church council, explained what the restoration will involve. “Many of the wooden window frames are rotten and need to be rebuilt. A lot of the stained glass will need replacing with the addition of extra leading to make the new windows more structurally sound.”

On the windows’ exterior sides, there are plans to replace all of old, filmy, outer glass coverings with new tempered glass making the windows more visible from the outside.

Unfortunately restoring lead, glass stained windows is neither inexpensive nor a job that can be undertaken by enthusiastic volunteers. Gayle Robertson met with church council members last Tuesday to discuss the restoration project and what is involves. The estimated cost to replace all of the windows is roughly $37,000.

A second meeting of the church council is scheduled to take place June 28 when the congregation will have a chance to discuss the project and how to go about the raising the neccesary funds. Crawford said, “We need to figure out if we can do the restoration in one single go, meaning do all of the windows at once or perhaps do them one by one as the funds are raised.”

The next meeting will iron out some of those details but one thing is for sure: most of the church’s fundraising efforts from here on in will definitely go towards restoring the windows. Both Brenda and Gayle seem optimistic and know that this is an important and necessary undertaking.

The next fundraising event, a Ham & Strawberry Dinner at St. Paul’s will take place on June 20, and will include an evening bluegrass concert by the White Family.

Anyone interested in donating to the window restoration campaign can contact Brenda Crawford at 613-372-2005 

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