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Remodel reveals century-old stained glass window

Post Time:Aug 12,2008Classify:Industry NewsView:456

LONGMONT — When workers wrested drab, gray tiles from the storefront at Longmont Vision Center on Main Street in February, they uncovered a piece of Longmont history.

The sun struck the soot-covered, dimpled panes of a huge grid-shaped stained-glass window, which some say is 100 years old. It probably had been sealed up behind the tile facade since the 1950s or ’60s.

“We suspected something unusual was there, actually, long before they discovered it,” architect Dave Bishton said.

In late 2007, the owner of the building, optometrist Dr. Roger Trudell, hired Bishton to renovate his storefront and offices. During planning, an architect with Moore & Bishton crawled into the attic at 412 Main St. with a flashlight “and saw this gridded material,” Bishton said, but could only get within 12 feet because a wall blocked his path.

“We just knew that there was something different about that that we were anxious to discover,” Bishton said. “It was our hope that there was something interesting that we could salvage up there.”  
When contractors began the demolition of the attic to expose the original coffered ceiling about two months later, they got an up-close look at the window.

“It was just black, and we couldn’t really even tell what it was,” project manager Dave Pyle with Kee Construction said. It was covered in soot, probably coal dust from a coal-burning stove. “It didn’t resemble a window,” he said.

Pyle came down and told Trudell he wanted the optometrist to see something. When they sprayed the window with water, the milky, dimpled panes of glass appeared.

“I was stunned,” Trudell said. “I had no clue what to think.”

The architects insisted that the window be incorporated into the renovation.

“They were ecstatic,” Trudell said. “They thought it was better than gold.”

The window spans the 30-foot width of the shop above the storefront. Pyle called Michele Feund of Berthoud, who makes custom stained-glass, to clean it up. She spent hours scouring the panes and using a toothbrush to clean the brass “came,” which holds the glass in place.

“It makes you think about the artist who put it together,” she said.

That artist might have been a denizen of Longmont around the turn of the century. The architects and contractors believe the window was part of the original structure, which first appeared on Sanborn Insurance’s maps, a useful archive on downtown buildings, in 1906. Those maps indicate the store was built between 1900 and 1906.

The window was probably boarded up and masked with porcelain tiles during a 1950s remodel, Bishton said.

“They called them ‘facelifts,’ and they really didn’t know what they wanted except they wanted a change,” he said. “We find these really nice buildings behind them.”

The architects from Moore & Bishton opted to cover the window with glass on the outside to protect it from wind and rain.

“It was delightful to find that this was in such good shape, and once it was cleaned up, it really was unique to the downtown,” Bishton said. “We haven’t seen anything like that in the old buildings that we’ve worked on ... and we’ve done a lot of downtown remodels.”

Source: Longmont TimesAuthor: admin

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