The historic First Presbyterian Church, built in 1870, suffered a devastating fire on the evening of March 22, 2016. The fire started in the balcony and engulfed the entire wooden roof. Fortunately, the walls were made of stone and were retained, except for the arched west wall, which lost its supporting wood rafters from the roof and had to be removed. Many of the pews were burned beyond saving, along with much valuable church furniture.
The majority of the beautiful stained glass windows (from such notable studios such as Connick of Boston, Tiffany of New York, and J&R Lamb), were saved. Unfortunately, two nine foot diameter circular windows and one Tiffany window were completely lost. The remaining twenty-four suffered smoke and heat damage, causing some to have the solder joints melt and fire cracks to the art glass.
Six days after the fire, Lamb Studios photo-documented the damage and removed all the remaining windows within five days and placed them into storage. A detailed conditions report was made of each window along with costs to be submitted to the insurance company.
Fortunately, the church had good pictures of all the windows that can be used for the reproduction of the missing windows. It is highly recommended that all churches have good photographs taken of all stained glass windows and also furniture. These should be placed in a fire-proof location or safe deposit box for any future unexpected event. The windows should also be appraised for replacement value by a certified stained glass appraiser. Donald Samick is available for such services at: www.stainedglassappraiser.com