Vernon A.M.E. Church Stained Glass Restoration Project in Tulsa

Stained glass windows are incredibly unique and beautiful pieces of art. Unfortunately, there are few professionals today who are experienced in stained glass restoration. At Houston Stained Glass, we’ve made it our mission to preserve this ancient art form that we hold so dear to our hearts. We are proud to be able to offer this service to stained glass owners all across the United States. 

Just recently, we had the opportunity to take part in a very important restoration project for a historic church in Oklahoma. Below, we’ve discussed the project and some of its most significant highlights in detail.

About the Client

The client for this particular project was a religious congregation located in Tulsa. The Vernon A.M.E. (African Methodist Episcopal) Church asked us to assist with the restoration of their stained glass windows. The church is well known in the Tulsa area for its role in the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, during which it helped save the lives of several members of the community by allowing them to take shelter in the basement during a large and violent riot.

After the riot, the church rebuilt using their own money. It was during this point in time that the stained glass windows were added. Unfortunately, since then, they had deteriorated badly and were in need of some major TLC and repairs.

Restoring the Stained Glass

Our first step was to assess the condition of the stained glass. We always conduct an assessment because it allows us to gain an understanding of what repairs are needed so we can inform our client of their options. When inspecting these stained glass windows, we found that there were several pieces of glass that were very badly damaged. There were 130 panels and about 5,000 individual pieces of glass. About 700 of these pieces would need to be replaced, which meant taking apart every panel and reassembling. The window frames were also in bad condition due to rotting and needed to be replaced as soon as possible.

A local mill company was hired to work on the window frames. Meanwhile, we set about the tasking of repairing the stained glass. We ordered new glass to replace the missing pieces. In the meantime, we restored as many as the windows as possible using the original glass that was in good condition. Operating in this manner (instead of waiting for the new glass to arrive and then start repairs) saved a tremendous amount of time. Then, when the shipment of new glass arrived, we restored the remaining windows.

One of the church’s original stained glass windows could not be restored because it was missing entirely from the building. To solve this, we made a new stained glass window. Our artisans designed a memorial window to honor the church’s actions during the 1921 riot. This we happily donated to the church as a gift.

tulsa ame church memorial stained glass

The final step was to protect all of the newly restored stained glass. A protective covering was created for each stained glass window. Then, the stained glass and the covering were inserted into the new window frames. We took great care to ensure that the exterior appearance of the historic building would not be altered in any way.

The Church’s Reaction

When we were completed with the repairs, we revealed our work to the church pastor and congregation. They were thrilled. In fact, the pastor was so overjoyed that he kissed the stained glass!

historic church stained glass tulsa

photo credit: Tulsa World

For us, it was such a touching and rewarding experience to see this reaction from the church. We will always cherish the memories from this project. And we hope that the stained glass will bring the church joy and beauty for many years to come.

Learn More

For more information on this project or stained glass restoration in general, please contact our office.

Martin Faith

Martin Faith is the founder and owner of Houston Stained Glass. Martin has been cultivating his skills as a stained glass artisan for over 30 years, passing on his knowledge and expertise to his team so that, together, they can create the most beautiful stained glass windows the world has ever seen. Martin's initial education in the trade took place in Glasgow, Scotland, the stained glass capitol of the world. He is an expert in the history of stained glass, its evolution, methods for conservation, and its many different styles and forms, including art deco, prairie, Greene & Greene, art nouveau, Mackintosh, floral, mission, beveled, and contemporary. Over the years, Martin's company has produced thousands of stained glass windows, which includes custom creations made for homes, churches, and commercial buildings located all throughout the Houston metro area.