St. Paul's stained glass

Paul Phelps (left), owner of Oakbrook Esser Studios in Oconomowoc, and Oakbrook Esser Studios craftsman Peter Krauski remove a more than century-old stained glass window from St. Paul’s Liberty Lutheran in Deerfield on July 8.

St. Paul’s Liberty Lutheran Church is hosting a Community Fun Festival Saturday, Aug. 17, from noon to 8 p.m. at Fireman’s Park in Deerfield. Live music will be provided by By Request, the Promised Band, the Tim Hansen Band and the Kristy B Band. There will be food and drink for sale, children’s activities like face painting and a bouncy house, a bags tournament, a raffle and a silent auction. Proceeds will help restore the church’s bell tower. More information: 764-5885.

Six stained glass windows, installed more than a century ago, were removed from St. Paul’s Liberty Lutheran in Deerfield this week as the church begins a major restoration of its historic building.

The six stained glass windows in the church’s stone bell tower were carefully removed July 8 by a team of three glass restoration experts from Oakbrook Esser Studios, of Oconomowoc. Over the next few months, they’ll be completely taken apart, the glass pieces cleaned, and then put back together with new leading.

When they’re returned to Deerfield in the fall, they’ll be re-hung including with new frames, new horizontal supports and new storm windows.

The design of the new storms, which will replace storms installed in the 1980s, will be important says Oakbrook Esser Studios owner Paul Phelps, allowing for the first time adequate venting to keep heat and humidity from building up, that can damage the windows.

“Heat isn’t a good friend to the windows,” Phelps said as he took a break July 8 in the church’s bell tower entryway, after removing several windows.

“We’ll take them completely apart, clean them, repair all broken pieces and then put them back together with new lead,” said Peter Krauski, a craftsman with Oakbrook Esser Studios who was helping July 8 with the removal. The glass, Krauski said, “lasts indefinitely,” but the lead in-between it usually needs replacing after 80 to 100 years.

St. Paul’s Liberty Lutheran was completed in 1859. The stained-glass windows were added later, in 1914, and have since remained hanging in their original frames and with original support pieces.

Phelps says once his studio’s restoration is done, the windows shouldn’t have come out again for this kind of work for another 100 years.

The church, in all, has 14 stained glass windows says member Roxanne Engelstad, who was on hand to watch the removal July 8 of the six from the bell tower.

The other eight are expected to be restored as part of a future restoration work phase at the church, Engelstad said.

Rev. Holly Slater said the congregation, in June, approved spending up to $60,000 to restore the church’s bell tower, including restoring the six windows and masonry work.

The masonry work on the bell tower will be done over the next few months, while the windows are out, by RD Woods Company of Milwaukee.

Also involved in larger planned restoration of the church are Vogel Brothers Building Co., of Madison, and engineering firm Facility Engineering, of Madison. Facility Engineering is now drafting a comprehensive restoration plan for the entire church; when it’s done Vogel Brothers will help implement it, Slater said. The plan is expected to be presented to the congregation in mid-August.

“This restoration plan will act as a roadmap of what capital needs we will have over the next five to seven years,” Slater said in an email.

Slater said at the congregational meeting in June, church members approved spending up to $200,000 “to support the restoration plan,” but she said until the written plan is done in August, the total amount that might be spent over time remains unclear. Long-term timelines, too, remain unclear for now, she said.

“Once the restoration plan is complete we will schedule another congregational meeting to determine how much of the plan we are willing to do and set a schedule for when that work will be done,” Slater wrote.

The restoration will be supported by a coming capital campaign, Slater said.

Tied to that is a Community Fun Day Aug. 17 in Deerfield Fireman’s Park that will include food, live music and family fun with face painting, a bouncy house, bags tournament, raffle and silent auction.

At the site on July 8, Phelps said the six removed windows from the bell tower are in “pretty frail shape.”

“They are in an advanced state of deterioration,” he said. “The structural integrity is kind of failing.”

“There are a lot of cracks in the glass, he added, which can be repaired.

Phelps said Oakbrook Esser Studios has been in business for about 40 years and has restored stained glass windows of St. Paul’s Liberty’s vintage, and much older.

He called the church’s financial investment “a major commitment.” That, he said, is “the best form of stewardship they can do,” to ensure they’ll still be in place “a long time into the future.”

Phelps and Engelstad said the bell tower and its windows are being restored first, before the rest of the building, because they appear in the most dire condition.

The church’s 14 stained glass windows, installed in 1914, were designed by Milwaukee craftsman Carl Reimann at a total cost of $423.

They range in size from three rose windows high in the bell tower that are each four feet in diameter; two stairway windows in the bell tower entryway that are each three feet wide by 10 feet high; an triangle-shaped entry window that is four feet wide by five feet tall; and eight sanctuary windows that are each four and a half feet wide by eleven and a half feet tall.

The church did not share how much the 14 windows are collectively valued in today’s dollars.

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