Repair work begins to secure iconic stained glass windows in the congregation’s central church


GALESBURG – Repair work to help save a set of iconic stained glass windows from one of Galesburg’s most recognizable structures is underway this week at Central Congregational Church, 60 Public square.

And church moderator Ann Ehler couldn’t be happier – or relieved.

Jacksonville stained glass Jacksonville began work Monday morning on Phase 1 of a complicated and expensive project to repair the exterior glass and frames that protect the three distinctive “Hitchcock windows” on the north side of the structure. Without the nearly $ 100,000 worth of maintenance, the windows were in danger of being destroyed.

“When (Jacksonville Stained Glass) was here in March, they couldn’t guarantee the windows would be ready before we could make the repairs,” Ehler said. “If it was windy and the door was open, a vacuum could be created and we would end up with the windows blown out. That’s how close it was.

“When the support system was not secure, the glass wiggled and swayed. You could hear the glass squeak. When this becomes stable, it will no longer happen. There will be no more destruction.”

A view of the north-facing stained-glass windows of the Central Congregational Church, 60 Public Square.

The windows at risk are 123 years old and feature 1,080 square feet of art glass on the north side of the building.

The estimated cost for Phase 1 was $ 98,250, and the church received half of that through the Town of Galesburg Facade Grants program. The remaining money was collected through donations.

Ehler assigns a April 18 Register-Mail article – chronicling the church’s need for help in saving windows – providing the spark for the private donation portion of the project.

“After The Register-Mail published its article in April, there were donations based on ‘we read the article in the newspaper and would like to contribute,’” Ehler said. “I think it was a major turning point in the process.

“We are over our goal for Phase 1 by $ 10,000, but I can’t stress enough that there is still work to be done. I don’t want anyone to breathe a sigh of relief and say ‘phew, draft finished “. “

Ehler noted that Phase 1 of the project essentially secures windows. Phase 2 would deal with cracks in the actual stained glass.

“I like to call phase 1 the critical phase,” said Ehler. “This is crucial. If we hadn’t locked those windows they would end up on the shrine floor. I held my breath all weekend. We lose these windows.

“We are always grateful that we were able to do this. As I explained before, these are iconic windows in a historic building built by abolitionists. It was the founding of the city. You don’t want to lose sight of the whole historical perspective that developed Galesburg. ”

Ehler said fundraising efforts have been carried out in a variety of ways, including social media blasts and a GoFundMe account.

“There have been donors who give periodically since 2019, both in small and larger amounts,” she said. “We have received significant donations from people who I am not sure I want to be identified with. It is the community giving Galesburg a gift. We have this church that is so visible, and we want to maintain its beauty.”

Central Congregational Church, featuring Richardson’s Romanesque architecture, was completed in 1898 and has designation as both a National monument (1976) and a Local landmark (1977). In 2018, the church was named one of Illinois’ 10 Most Endangered Historic Places.

Heart and soul did a survey so many years ago, and they brought out Galesburg’s sense of community, ”Ehler said. ” It’s an example. We have received donations from people we expected – people who got married here or who grew up in the church. We have also received donations from people who have just said they love the building.

“It’s just a real blessing.”

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In addition to GoFundMe account, checks can also be sent directly to the church making sure that WINDOW PROJECT is written on the memo line. Galesburg Community Foundation will also accept donations for the church with CCC WINDOW PROJECT noted on the memo line.

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