Parishioners preserve ‘saintly’ windows at local Catholic church

Parishioners preserve ‘saintly’ windows at local Catholic church
Tony Zeaiter points out some of the detail cleaning done on one of the 10 stained glass windows at St. Paul’s Catholic Church.

The four Gospel writers – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – together with Saints Peter, Paul, Jerome, Ambrose, Augustine, and Gregory are depicted beautifully in a series of stained glass windows – donated in 1941 by the Lester W. Foley family – at St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Riverside.

After three-quarters of a century, the saints needed a little preserving.

Installed 76 years ago by the Rambusch Firm of New York, the same company who designed and installed the Ground Zero Memorial, the 10 windows were designed by Hugo Ohlms, a New York muralist.

The four stained glass windows at St. Paul’s Catholic Church which depict the Gospel writers.

The four stained glass windows at St. Paul’s Catholic Church which depict the Gospel writers.

Earlier this year, administrators at the parish appealed to the congregation to raise $90,000 for the preservation project. Thanks to the members’ generosity, the goal was exceeded and Lynchburg Stained Glass Windows was contracted for the job, which was completed in two weeks in May. Eight of the windows are 5 feet 4 inches wide by 15 feet high; the two transcept windows are 7 feet by 15 feet.

“The windows were in bad need of cleaning inside and out, and were also leaking in some places. Some of the lead and solder needed some attention,” said Tony Zeaiter, business manager. “The project was designed to protect from the weather elements and get many more years out of the stained glass windows.”

Zeaiter said the project was more of a conservation effort rather than a restoration, to ensure they get many more years out of the windows. Clear, double-paned window coverings were installed on the outside of each window for further protection.

The cost of the project was not that much less than the cost to build the entire church – $100,000, equivalent to $1.3 million today – in 1940.

The 900-seat sanctuary, built in the Mediterranean Revival style with sun-bleached yellow bricks and Ludowici roof tiles, did not originally contain the Stations of the Cross, the beautiful paintings or the stained glass windows, which were added a year later. The architect was Gerald Barry of Chicago, the supervisory architect was John Reynolds of Jacksonville, and the contractor was A. L. Clayton of Jacksonville.

St. Paul’s celebrated its 90th anniversary in 2013 and installed Rev. George Vaniyapurackal as their new pastor in February. Father George is the eighth pastor in the congregation’s 94-year history.

The church was also granted approval June 28 by the Jacksonville Historic Preservation Commission for installation of a handicap-
accessible ramp, replacing a concrete driveway between two buildings on the 3.5-acre campus, and constructing a knee wall to hide mechanical equipment.


By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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