Window Restoration Project

About our windows

 

The thirty seven stained glass windows in Bisbee's St. Patrick Church are made of two thousand, three hundred, seventy seven square feet of glass -- equivalent to the floor area of a good sized home!  The largest windows are the mammoth east and west transept indows depicting the Birth and the Ascension of Christ, approximately 25' high and 13' wide, and the south (balcony) Assumption window that is 21' high.  Ten clerestory windows measure approximately 16' high and 8' wide, while the 8 lower windows in the nave measure 4.5' x 5.5'.  There are several smaller panels in the entryway, stairwells, vesting rooms, and sacristies.

The glass used in the windows is mouth-blown full antique stained glass, nearly all of which came from Germany.  It is important to note that while the glass was imported from Germany, the windows themselves were crafted in St. Louis, Missouri by Bavarian born artist and craftsman Emil Frei, who founded the Emil Frei Art Glass Company in 1898.  The company, Emil Frei and Associates,  is still in business today, with the fourth and fifth generations of the family continuing the work.    More information about the Frei family and the company history can be found here. We are most fortunate that these craftsmen will be handling our restoration work.

The windows in St. Patrick Church were crafted in the "Munich Pictorial" style, and are among the best examples of this style to be found in the world. The glass itself is colored with metal oxides added while the glass is still in its molten state.   Munich Pictorial style windows feature lifelike images of saints and other figures (often depicting the life of Christ) painted onto the colored glass.  The painted window sections are fired at 1200 degrees Fahrenheit, so that the materials used in the painting process sink into the glass and are permanently fused, never to fade or peel.  The windows always retain their original color.  After our windows have been cleaned and restored, they will shine with the same splendor as the day they were installed.

The Munich Pictorial style of window is the most labor intensive style of stained glass window ever done in history.  Countless hours are spent by the studio artists in the window designs and the process of painting faces, hands, and other fine details.  Due to increasing costs of labor and material, Munich Pictorial has become more and more a thing of the past--all the more reason for us to carefully preserve the treasure we have.  

Except for the smallest single panels, the windows were crafted in sections, each section with details complete -- painting, lead came, steel frames, and firing.  Although no specific documentation has been found, it is likely that the window sections were transported from St. Louis to Bisbee via railroad. The engineering, fastening of the window sections together, and installation of the windows in the terra cotta walls of the church would have been done by workers from the Frei Studio in St. Louis who traveled to Bisbee.

A horizontal band at the base of most windows bears an inscription carrying what appears to be either the name of the window donor or the names of those memorialized.  Since there are no specific records still available, the exact cost of the windows and the exact amount donated for the windows by each family is not known.  However, a 1968 document written by Rev. Walter F. Rosensweig, paster of St. Patrick Church at that time, gives a bit of church history and indicates that "the beautiful large windows, high up on the walls (probably referring to the clerestory windows) , cost $1,500 each, while the little windows close to the side aisles were $250 each."  Using a U.S. Inflation Calculator, those numbers would translate to approximately $37,752 and $6,292 in 2019.  Today the windows are valued in excess of $4 million.

 


Why do we need the
Restoration Project?

 


More details about the Restoration Project 


How can I support the Restoration Project?
   

 

 

 

 

See window pictures
here 

 


As a kid growing up in Bisbee, I went to school at St. Pats and was in the church a lot, but I never really paid much attention to the windows. Later I returned to Bisbee for a family member’s funeral at the church.  I was greatly moved by the beauty of the windows, and I understood then what a priceless gift they were to all who saw them.
~Former Parishioner

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