Old stained-glass given new life

Lisa Johnston | lisajohnston@archstl.org

In the late 1860s, the artisans at Alphonse Friedrick & Bro. Painted & Stained Glass-works in Brooklyn, N.Y., delicately and meticulously crafted and installed the stained-glass windows for the new chapel at the Society of the Sacred Heart's Kenwood Convent in Albany, N.Y.

Nearly 150 years later, their workmanship is on display again, repurposed as the Society renovates its U.S.-Canada provincial headquarters in Midtown St. Louis, near Saint Louis University.

Four arched, stained-glass windows will greet visitors entering the Society's new conference area from Forest Park Avenue. Another circular stained-glass window will greet visitors using the main entrance, on the wall behind the reception desk and, on the other side, the focal point of the provincial office chapel.

The windows had been in storage since the society closed its motherhouse at Kenwood, then came out of storage after the office renovation was underway. A half-wall, with steel studs and roughed-in for electric and cable, already was in place for the conference room, but its construction turned into demolition to make way for the stained-glass beauties.

"This is cool," said ICON Contracting's Dan Rainey, hard at work on the installation on a recent day. "It's an honor to work on something like this; this is the fun stuff."

An invoice from 1869 details the costs at $1,421.54 minus $170 Frederick forgot to charge for the window vents. In addition to the repurposed windows, the Society had three windows in various states of disrepair. The sheer weight of the windows, with lead amongst the stained-glass, was causing them to crumble. The windows were carefully crated before the Society gave them to the archdiocesan Reclamation Center, now at Cardinal Rigali Center, for repurposing.

"They are so fragile," said Rainey, who otherwise simply described the windows as "gorgeous." 

>> Sculpture unveiled

St. Rose Philippine Duchesne recently took a seat of honor in the Prayer Garden by the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis.

Archbishop Robert J. Carlson and Sister Sheila Hammond, RSCJ, provincial for Society of the Sacred Heart U.S.-Canada, unveiled the sculpture of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne at a gathering June 29. Archbishop Carlson blessed it, sprinkled it with holy water, then sprinkled the water around the crowd of about 200.

Villa Duchesne graduate Trudy Busch Valentine, Billy Busch and Adolphus Busch donated the sculpture in honor of their mother, Trudy Busch, who died in 2016.

The sculpture sits on a bench, flanked by two more, as though speaking with anyone who sits down next to the saint's depiction. The sculptor was Gianfranco Tassara of Inspired Artisans in Milwaukee, the Associated Alumnae(i) of the Sacred Heart donated the benches and the Villa Duchesne-City House Alumnae Association donated a plaque about Saint Phillipine Duchesne. 

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