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Hidden Treasures

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Although currently covered with plaster, parishioners of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church will soon be able to look through windows depicting the church's namesake. The three windows, which will be installed behind the altar, were discovered during renovation of the church and are being evaluated and restored by Artisan Art Glass, Terre Haute. Jason Jacobs Photo. [Order this photo]
* Area church discovers historic windows during renovation

A local church recently discovered a window which has spent more than eight decades buried behind a wall and could hold an important historical link to the origins of the building.

Brazil's Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church, 19 N. Alabama St., recently struck up a deal with Artisan Art Glass, 1323 Wabash Ave., Terre Haute, to evaluate three windows, which Artisan President David Rosen believes may have been constructed between 1881 and 1885, during the church's early years.

The three windows depict the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the namesake event of the church.

"I think this is a very significant discovery for the church," Ed Burt, who referred to himself as Annunciation's "informal historian," said. "I think when we get (the windows) opened up for the first time, it will be very moving."

To give the congregation a taste of what they may be dealing with, Artisan has offered them an opportunity to come in and watch the reconstruction process.

Though the restoration process only recently began, Rosen said Burt contacted him more than a year ago about trying to inspect and repair the windows. The windows, which were visible only through a wire-filled window on the outside, were seen from the inside for the first time since the 1920s after a wall, which had obstructed them, was removed during a full-scale construction effort.

Rosen said while he couldn't say beyond the shadow of a doubt the windows were originated between 1881-85, but he could speculate very strongly, as he's been working on stained glass for 53 of the 60 years he's been alive.

"We're just going with what experience tells us," Rosen said. "I've been at this long enough that when I see a particulate piece, I can tell if the workman was left or right-handed, so I feel pretty sure I know what we're looking at."

Rosen also has additional reason to feel connected to the material, as he spent 35 years as a Presbyterian clergyman.

As for the windows, neither Rosen nor Burt had definitive knowledge as to why they were initially covered up. Due to its extensive time in seclusion, no congregation member has been able to remember in vivid detail why the wall was placed up to block the area.

Two reasons given were to block out blinding sunrays and to offer support for a statue of Jesus a past preacher desired to have placed in the church.

Rosen said restoration work on one window should be completed by the end of the week, while the other two would be completed in approximately 7-10 days. He said discoveries like this are "kind of like discovering a Christmas gift you always wanted," and stated if people knew where to look, they would find various other stained glass valuables throughout the community and that the discovery at Annunciation could go a long way toward leading to finding more of them.

"Terre Haute and all its surrounding areas have a lot of undiscovered glass treasures," Rosen said. "The more community awareness we can raise about them, the better."

Burt said he was very eager to get through the repairs process, as he was ready to see how the restored windows would look back at their original resting place on the east wall behind the altar at the church.

"I can't wait to see (the window) with the sun shining through it," he said.

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That is amazing! Annunciation is such a beautiful church and this will certainly add to it's magnificence.

-- Posted by JaniLou on Wed, Feb 17, 2010, at 10:02 AM

I heard about those windows when I was a alterboy,back in the fifties,never seen them but had heard they were there

-- Posted by T-REX on Thu, Feb 18, 2010, at 11:32 AM

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