100-year-old stained glass windows restored, back on display at Yawkey House Museum

The process of restoring the 100+ year old windows took about 6 months
Published: Jun. 17, 2022 at 5:30 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - For the past 6 months at the Yawkey House Museum, something has been missing.

“The windows are original to the house, they would have been installed as part of the 1907 renovation that took place here at Yawkey House,” Erick Konop, the Curator at the Yawkey House Museum said of the 3 stained glass windows.

The three panes were replaced in December 2021 with plain, frosted glass so the original windows could be restored.

“For as permanent as stained glass looks, it actually has, for lack of a better word, a shelf life,” Konop explained. “After about 75 years, the lead that holds stained glass together decays to the point that you’re in danger of losing the structural integrity of the window.”

The windows at the Yawkey house were well past that 75-year mark.

“The windows were well over 100 years old, and they were starting to bow out, so that’s always a good sign that they’re ready for a full restoration,” Kristy Meyer, Owner of Studio K Stained Glass said.

Meyer and her team at her Appleton-based business worked for the past 6 months to restore the windows to their former glory.

“It’s a unique experience every time, even though we do restoration on windows all the time, we don’t know how they were done in the past, they didn’t have the same tools we have in the past, so it’s nice to see how the original artisans did the work for us, and without the electrical tools and stuff that we have today,” she said of the process.

With their work completed, it was time to get the windows back where they belong.

“All of it hopefully will go in nice and smoothly for us,” Meyer said.

Konop watched as Meyer’s team worked to get the panes back in place. “It’s going to feel like a major part of the house has come back home,” he said.

The windows returned to Cyrus Yawkey’s study depict an oak forest.

“Cyrus Yawkey was a lumberman and quite particular about the finished woods that went into his house, and this room is entirely oak themed, which we understand was Cyrus Yawkey’s favorite wood,” Konop said, referring to the study.

With the window panes back in place, more than 100 years of history is back where it belongs.

“A hundred years ago, someone made these because they thought it would be the right thing for that space, and you want to keep that living, basically,” Meyer said.

The Yawkey House Museum is open for tours Tuesday through Sunday.

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