Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church restores historic stained glass

CANTON — Restoring the stained glass windows of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church has been a 20-year dream for longtime member Selma Boyd.

Overdue work has begun in earnest at the downtown church at 700 Market Ave. S.

The Rev. Charles Prince, senior pastor, said the first window was removed on April 4 and taken to Jackson Township-based Studio Arts & Glass, which is handling the restoration work.

Each section will cost at least $2,000 to restore.

“We started…in the (southwest) corner because they were in worse shape,” he said. “When it’s over will depend on how much money we can raise.”

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Boyd said her interest in window preservation led her to enroll in a stained glass class at Studio Arts & Glass in 2013.

“We’ve worked with them for 20 years,” she said. “We have to bring them together for the next generation.”

Studio Arts & Glass and what it takes to restore stained glass

Wendy Joliet, co-owner of Studio Arts & Glass, is overseeing the effort as it will take approximately three weeks to restore each window.

The windows are opalescent glass, only produced in the United States, she said. They were likely made by Kokomo Opalescent Glass in Kokomo, Indiana, or Paul Wissmach Glass Co. in Paden City, West Virginia.

“Both companies have been in business for at least 125 years, and we know these windows are at least 100 years old,” Joliet said.

The Black Stone Church was built by the Second Methodist Church in 1880. It became Simpson Methodist Episcopal Church in 1884. Shiloh was founded by 20 members in 1925 at 815 Cherry Ave. SE. He acquired the current building from Simpson United Methodist in 1962 for $65,000 and took possession in 1964. In the decades that followed, extensive renovations were made to the sanctuary, steeple, and roof.

Joliet said the opalescent glass looks great day or night.

Wendy Joliet, co-owner of Studio Arts & Glass, talks about the stained glass restoration project at Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in Canton.

The colors are created by oxides, which are added when the glass is in molten form, and permeate the material when applied, Joliet said.

“The color is the same as 100 years ago,” she said.

Joliet said each panel is secured with lead, noting the weather has taken its toll.

“Lead contracts in the cold and expands when it’s hot,” she said. “After 100 years, it loses its elasticity.”

Joliet said after the windows are taken down, the old lead will be sold to a local recycling center. The joints will be resoldered with new lead.

Repaired windows will be cured for four days and then installed with steel braces to provide stability.

Joliet said Studio Arts & Glass has performed restorations at many churches, including Little Flower Catholic Church in Plain Township, Crossroads United Methodist in Canton, King Avenue Church in Columbus and Harmony Springs Church in Green.

The studio also restored the Statehouse’s 12-foot glass rotunda, which is now on display in the building’s gift shop, and worked on a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house in Springfield.

Virtually all churches in downtown Guangzhou feature stained glass windows. The Basilica of St. John the Baptist, where Joliet was married, has traditional “old-fashioned” windows made in Germany, she said.

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Safeguarding a Church’s Rich History

Boyd said their windows were worth it. They frame a sanctuary surrounded by a gleaming wooden balcony. Below is a graceful wooden prayer altar and planked floor.

“I think the church is beautiful,” Boyd said. “I want to maintain it for the generation that comes behind us.”

A detail of one of the stained glass windows in Shiloh Baptist Church.

Joliet agreed.

“It’s a focal point and a work of art,” she said of the windows.

Loyal members Kevin Elliott and his mother, Marlene, both love Shiloh. A few years ago, the members were considering moving and constructing a new building.

“I’m so glad we’re keeping the church,” Marlene Elliott said. “I’ve been here since I was 10. I love church.”

Kevin Elliott said the building was a lifelong fascination.

“It looked like a castle to me when I was a kid,” he said. “I will do whatever it takes.”

Prince said the windows are an integral part of the church’s identity.

“It has greatness,” he said. “It feels like a church.”

Contact Charita at 330-580-8313 or [email protected]

On Twitter: @cgoshayREP

how to help

Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church is accepting donations to help restore its stained glass windows. They can be sent to the church at 700 Market Ave. S, Canton, OH, 44702. Mark “windows” in the check memo; or donate through the church’s GoFundMe page.

Martha J. Finley