Guarducci Stained Glass Studios 'gives back' to community by giving Guthrie Center windows another century
Editor's note: This story was updated on Jan. 11, 2018. The cost of restoring the stained glass windows is $42,000, not $3,200 as previously stated.
GREAT BARRINGTON — Sometimes, even the angels need help.
At the Guthrie Center, those angels in the circular rose window have managed to hold on since 1866 with just a few repairs, though typically stained glass windows need care every 80 to 100 years to keep them strong and stable.
"The window has never been touched," said George Laye, director of the Guthrie Center, a community cultural and spiritual center founded by music legend Arlo Guthrie, who lives in nearby Washington.
But after a short respite, those angels in the old Trinity Church window will settle back in to watch over things for another century.
A pair of local craftsman on Tuesday began the process of carefully removing the windows for a full restoration.
David Guarducci and Charles Woodard, who own Guarducci Stained Glass Studios in Great Barrington, will dismantle the window, piece by piece, then clean, repair and solder it back together. Their business specializes in liturgical window restoration. They said the restoration should be complete in early March.
"They said they wanted to give back," Laye said.
It's a $42,200 job, given as a gift.
"It's needed work for as long as both of us can remember going back to the 1970s and early '80s, which was when it probably would have been ideal for it to have been restored," Woodard said. "We're now approaching the final phase of our careers and said, 'If we don't speak up, it may never get done.' So we're doing it during the slow season."
The artisans have restored and repaired glass from churches and other institutions for 35 years in their studio near Beartown State Forest. Recently they restored windows at the former St. James Episcopal Church — now St. James Place — and St. Peter Parish, both in Great Barrington. They solder with an alloy of tin and lead, and use techniques unchanged since the 1400s.
And if a piece of glass is missing, they'll duplicate it.
It's a sensitive art — Woodard said a silicone or epoxy glue might be used for cracks on a face, for instance, to avoid a dark solder line.
"This is a real heirloom project," he said.
He said most church windows have a roughly 80- to 100-year cycle.
"It skips a generation in terms of care and maintenance," Woodard said
He said it is not unusual for windows to weaken and fall.
"Wind can actually pull them out of a building," he said.
Laye said Woodard and Guarducci told him they had heard about "all the good stuff we do here in the community."
Indeed, the center is known in South County as a house of loving kindness.
"We do a free community lunch and free legal aid every Wednesday," Laye said. "We have free tutoring for adults and children year round — we have a great stable of tutors and a concert series. We're just here for the community."
Woodard said he and Guarducci would be here for the center.
"We will reset the clock for the next 100 years."
Heather Bellow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @BE_hbellow and 413-329-6871.
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