Victorian Stained Glass Restoration and Preservation

A session by Jane Watkins and Phil Watkins
Watkins Stained Glass Studio and Watkins Stained Glass Studio

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About this session

Buildings across Colorado inspire reverence with the incorporation of beautifully intertwined stained glass windows. Do you know the history of this art-form and how this medieval craft continues today? Join the master craftsman of Watkins Stained Glass in a decade of time travel as attendees journey through a photographic experience displaying the restoration, preservation, and sustainability of the stained glass windows at the First United Methodist Church Canon City. The purpose of this session is to educate, inform, and inspire. Sit back, learn, and discover the techniques and skills of traditional Old English stained glass master craftsmanship as you enjoy the beauty of true Victorian stained glass windows. Enjoy this hands-on virtual session and no need to worry about the snowy drive to Canon City in February. The last topic will be mentioned at the conclusion with an update on the French Notre Dame Catholic Church fire describing the condition and preservation of the stained glass windows.

Canon City was founded in 1860 and the Canon City Methodist Church was established soon after in 1866. After many years of struggle and growth the new First United Church of Canon City was built in 1899, designed by a local architect for $12,000. The stained glass windows are beautifully crafted Victorian treasures. This session will investigate; The GOOD, the BAD, and the UGLY; of these beautiful windows. The GOOD as the windows were made were very finely made, and the church members have been very good stewards of the windows, thus they have survived for 120 years; the BAD is the aging process of over century-old windows: water, wind, hail, gravity and vandalism; and the UGLY, is two-fold, the exterior plastic glazing that has yellowed and becomes brittle, as well as the poor repairs, done and often with mismatched glass. A good friend and preservationist said “Poverty Saves Windows” and this is so often the case, often no repairs are better than poor repairs.

Proper historic preservation indicates that repairs are reversible. The utilization of original materials follows this theory as well as creating a sustainable future. So many restorations are done now by companies who remake and relead the window, thus filling the landfills and tragic that the glass history and original materials are gone forever. We preserve the windows, the history, and the original materials with the same techniques and skills used by artisans hundreds of years ago.

Stained glass has been a Watkins family tradition in England since 1761, eight generations of Watkins men have devoted their lives to stained glass for the past 250 years. In Denver since 1868, the Watkins family is proud to be the state’s premier and oldest stained glass studio in the Rocky Mountain area.