April 20 • 07:29 AM

History repeated at Potter's House

Church artisans undertake stainedglass window restoration project

May 02, 2007
ALMONT — There are times when it's good that history repeats itself.

Potters House
David Wiskirchen and Leilani display large stained glass windowpane carefully removed from The Potter’s House in Almont before taking it to their studios for renovation.
Take the massive stained glass windows in the historic Potter's House church on W. St. Clair, for example. They're deteriorating with age to the point of extreme fragility, but the old building wouldn't be the same without them.

Now, thanks to artisans who for generations have repeated their history of religious arts restoration, the antique stained glass windows will be returned to their former glory.

Wiskirchen Studios of Kentwood, Mich. has taken on the project, David Wiskirchen explains, something that's so innate it's probably a part of his DNA.

Wiskirchen—a German word defined as 'church in the meadow,' is more than just a family name. It's a tradition of craftsmanship and artistry that has been passed along for seven generations—from its roots in Germany.

Wiskirchen says the studios' goal is to preserve religious arts in cathedrals, churches and monasteries throughout the globe. They've worked on buildings in Germany and across the United States.

"It's a family tradition, in fact we were named after Wiskirchen Church in Germany," he says.

Wiskirchen and assistant Leilani May carefully remove the stained glass windowpanes from the front of the building. This is the first grouping they'll work on and complete before coming back for more.

After carefully measuring the window openings, the pair tidies up the mouldings and covers the empty space with clear plexiglass.

Once in the studio, Wiskirchen says, they'll make a pattern of the windows before taking them completely apart and rebuilding new ones.

This is another restoration goal among a number of projects the church has aimed for since it was purchased in 1985, says Rev. Juan Martinez.

From the get-go, they committed to restoring the building and upgrading the exterior without losing any original, historic materials and workmanship.

"We plan to add new trim and siding and trim molding," Martinez says. "Everything you see here will be upgraded."

The stained glass window project sat on the back burner for some time, Martinez says, so he's happy that they gathered enough funds to make the plan a reality.

"Finally the finances came in," Martinez says. "We take our fellowship finances and invest them back into the building."

While they also plan to cover the wood siding on the historic building, Martinez says it will not be removed or destroyed.

"In case sometime in the future the building gets sold and the person wants to restore it back to the wood, it will be there," he says.

In the meantime, Wiskirchen Studios will proceed with their detailed work on the stained glass windows.

"We'll be back for the others once we get these complete," Wiskirchen says.

To see examples of Wiskirchen Studios' work, visit the Web site

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