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Summer 2012

Windthorst Stained Glass Windows Renovated

by Charlene Scott Myers

All of the colorful and stunning stained glass windows at the historical Immaculate Heart of Mary Church at Windthorst, Kansas are undergoing renovation this summer.

"We are very excited to restore these beautiful windows which are starting to deteriorate," said Susan Rueb, president of the board of directors of Windthorst Heritage Inc., which has begun the project.

The church building was completed a century ago in 1912, and has been celebrating its 100th anniversary year during 2012. The church was dedicated in 1913, and hosts several annual concerts of the College Singers, Concert Choir, Choral Union, and Dodge City Symphony.

The stained glass windows were designed and installed in 1916 by Emil Frei and Associates of St. Louis, Missouri, the same company that is renovating the windows now.

"We are looking forward to working with Frei and Associates on the windows because they think of the windows as theirs also," said Dan Torline, who has worked closely with Stephen Frie, great-great-grandson of Emil Frie.

Artists from Munich, Germany, and St. Louis, Missouri created the hand-blown glass for each window. The windows are called the "Munich Pictorial Style," which was the most labor intensive style of stained glass ever created in history, and therefore, the most expensive.

Cracks in the glass of the windows will be repaired, and unmatched glass from previous repairs will be replaced. The renovations include flattening bulges and repairing the reinforcing bars that are detached.

Dirt also has blown in between the stained glass and the diffusion glass. Some sections of the diffusion glass are cracked.

"We are installing new protective diffusion glass behind the windows that will fortify them and make them stronger," said Phyllis Indiek, a long-time member of the board of trustees who conducts tours of the church and arranges the concerts.

The project, which also will include painting the trim and cleaning the windows, is expected to cost $105,000 to complete.

Windthorst Heritage, Inc. applied for a $50,000 grant from the "Why Not Dodge?" sales tax funds, receiving the grant in late March. The Community Facilities Advisory Board (CFAB), the Dodge City Commission, and the Ford County Commission voted on the applications.

Windthorst Heritage also learned in February that its application for tax credits also has been approved.

"Once the project is complete, the board will submit the request for tax credits under the State Tax Credit Rehabilitation Certification program,"

Rueb explained.

"Our final step is to find enough donors to finish the project; we will need approximately $55,000 to complete the funding of this project."
Recent renovations of the Windthorst property have included replacing all sidewalks around and in front of the church, as well as major renovation of the rectory's exterior and interior. A new sewer system has been installed, and maintenance performed on the church roof.
"Next summer we plan to replace the water lines from the well to the rectory and the church," Torline said. "These lines are more than 60 years old and have rusted out.

"We've been spending too much money patching rusted water lines; it's time to replace them," he added.

Contributions for the preservation of the church windows may be sent to: Windthorst Heritage Inc., PO Box 823, Dodge City, KS 67801.


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