A recovered childhood church treasure

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While everyone else was at the cottage or taking a leisurely stroll this summer, Amanda Anderson spent her weekends in the non-air-conditioned building of the United Methodist Church in Aldersgate, near the highway. 100 in Saint-Louis Park. As the cars passed, she and a small team were inside, dripping with sweat, carefully saving 15 stained glass windows from the building, which has since been demolished to make way for a housing estate.

Growing up, Anderson attended the church and has long had an affinity for the space as well as its stained glass windows, with a primary color palette of striking reds, yellows and turquoises.

Anderson, who holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental science from the University of Minnesota and a master’s degree in sustainability from Yale University, learned to appreciate the joys of art recovery and architecture to make room for new things. So when she learned that the church she attended as a child would be moving and the building would be demolished, it was in her wheelhouse to save the one-of-a-kind stained glass window.

“These were the ones who sat on either side of the sanctuary, so they were the most visible to anyone entering the space,” Anderson said.

She sought – and was granted permission – to recover the windows. After bringing in a team specializing in the extraction of stained glass windows, the stained glass windows were removed. Anderson’s next step will be to find homes for the pieces by auctioning them off and donating the proceeds.

Be part of a design movement

According to Aldersgate church records, the windows were created by Eugene Marggraff, a artist who studied stained glass design in Vienna. The windows were designed in the Dalle de Verre (“glass slab” in French) style of cemented stained glass.

“The method was popularized in Europe after World War II, so it’s definitely part of the mid-century modern design movement,” Anderson said. The artist’s statement, provided to the church in 1950 when the windows were added to the space in 1971, describes the windows as “color in motion, creating a fourth dimension in space” while carrying a “childish quality” of strong and colorful shapes.

Anderson herself was drawn to this “childish quality” of windows as a young girl. “I remember being forced to touch the glass, which was so thick it protruded from the surrounding matrix and had colors as vibrant as hard candy,” she said. “I spent hours wandering around this building, and these windows played an important role in my education and helped me understand the joys of stillness, stillness, and being in my own mind.”

To remove the windows, Anderson received help from her father, husband, and teenage children. She also relied on the services of Joshua Tollefson and his father, David, of JDT Stained Glass. “The windows were ridiculously difficult to remove,” she said.

Reuse with a purpose

Eight windows, each of which measures about 3 by 4 feet, will be sold at a charity auction this month.

Proceeds from the auction will benefit nonprofits Simpson Housing Services, providing housing and resources for homeless people, and Bridging, helping with furniture and household items for those seeking housing stability.

Anderson teamed up with Karen Woyak of Retro Wanderlust, Texa-Tonka’s mid-century resale boutique in St. Louis Park, for the auction. Currently, one of the display cases is displayed at the store to give an idea of ​​the size, weight and extent of the pieces. Anderson plans to start the auction at $400, which is the cost of removing each panel. Any money raised over this amount will be shared between the two charities.

“Because they’re so rare, it’s hard to put a price tag on them,” she said. “I want to bring them to homes where they will be loved, so even if they are purchased by someone outside of the Twin Cities, I will be happy to crate them and send them wherever they need to go.”

Anderson said the pieces would make great displays indoors or outdoors.

“They are quite massive, so one would certainly suffice. One of the parishioners at the church put a single panel in his garden, and some people have expressed interest in creating a diptych as part of a symmetrical garden space “, she said.

Anderson set aside some signs for his own yard in Eden Prairie. The five-panel set sits alongside a gazebo that was built expressly to provide space to sit and enjoy the windows. To create the garden setup, Anderson’s husband, Josh, built frames for the windows, using vertical metal pipes that drop 2 feet below the frost layer.

“It’s a peaceful, private space that we can enjoy,” she said.

But she urges potential bidders to think about interior displays as well. “Because they’re incredibly heavy, you’ll need to make sure every piece is secure. I could see them working beautifully in open spaces or in a home with an open floor plan,” Anderson suggested. “They could be a nice break between rooms, almost like a room divider.”

Finally, she is adamant that these windows need light to be truly appreciated. She installed spotlights in her own garden to highlight them at night. For indoor uses, she suggested installing a string light and attaching it to a wall behind the windows.

“They really come to life when the light shines through them,” Anderson said.

Julie Kendrick is a Minneapolis-based writer. Follow her on Twitter at @KendrickWorks.

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