Church invites community into window restoration project

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SHERIDAN — When the stained-glass windows were first installed in the United Church of Christ in Sheridan in 1911, they cost  $600.

Today, to restore the windows to their original state will cost more than $60,000.

Because of this, church members are reaching out to the community for support while simultaneously giving back.

UCC Sheridan started Last Friday at First earlier this year, which provides an hour-long free concert featuring local artists. For the Sept. 28 event, a silent auction will accompany the Fire Ants band of John Egan, Jane Perkins and Terry Garrison.

“These big (stained-glass windows) are a massive undertaking,” Rev. Sheila Naismith said.

The items will sit in the sanctuary underneath the stained-glass windows needing restored.

Naismith said the church saved enough to replace the smaller windows on a little more than one side of the building. An expert in the craft from Willet Hauser Architectural Glass returned to Sheridan for a second appraisal of the current stained glass in the last few years. Naismith pointed out bowing and cracks in that glass. On the exterior of the building, stained glass is unable to be viewed due to the cloudiness of the plexiglass coverings.

The building itself was built in 1911. UCC’s original lot, where the Sheridan County Courthouse is now located, was sold to Sheridan County in 1902 for $625. In 1904, the trustees authorized Herbert E. Zullig to purchase lots at the corner of Works and Brooks streets for $1,600. Zullig also contracted for the removal of the original church building made of wood to the new location for $250.

Following a comical combination of hellfire hymn singing and foundations falling one Sunday in 1909, the church decided in November 1910 to construct a new building and to include stained-glass windows. With a cost of $600 added to a more than $35,000 project, the Church Building Society agreed to add the windows. The old building was sold for $400 and moved to East Brundage Street, where it still stands and is utilized today.

The new building was constructed with community in mind; it included a gymnasium in the basement. Boy Scout troops and Campfire Girls groups were hosted in the new building.

Through multiple construction, restoration and improvement projects throughout different parts of the church building, the stained-glass windows were never touched. Naismith joked that a former reverend relayed to her his apologies for the burden being placed upon her to restore the needy windows. Instead of burdening solely church members and the church’s budget, Naismith chose to reach out to the community for help. 

What initially attracted five-year member of UCC Barbara Fosmire to the church was the architecture.

“The design of the church just hit me just right because it’s beautiful,” Fosmire said. “When I went into the church and looked, the stained-glass windows are an inspiration to me because they are beautiful.”

Whether slowly or quickly, Naismith anticipates continuing efforts until each window is restored to its original glory.

By |Sep. 14, 2018|

About the Author:

Ashleigh Fox joined The Sheridan Press in October 2016 as the government, cops and courts reporter. She is a native of Colorado and graduated from Biola University in Los Angeles, CA. Before working in Sheridan, she worked as a sports editor for the Sidney Herald in Sidney, MT. Email Ashleigh at: ashleigh.fox@thesheridanpress.com

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