Farewell To The Mississippi State Capitol
Mississippi has come a long way in the last hundred years. In 1903 our state capitol, in all its Beaux-Arts splendor, was completed including over seventy leaded stained glass windows. The stained glass windows were designed, fabricated and installed by Louis Millet Studio of Chicago. One hundred and eleven years later this legacy was continued by Pearl River Glass Studio by the methodical removal, complete restoration and reinstallation of every leaded stained glass window in the exterior elevations of the capitol. Since its inception in 1975, Pearl River Glass Studio, 18 city blocks north of the capitol, has provided professional design, artwork, and restoration of windows in the capitol.
Starting in the late summer of 2013, and through 2015, our studio members have removed all of the stained glass windows, taken them apart, and completely restored the windows with all new lead cames and steel reinforcement bars. Andrew Cary Young, President of PRGS, walked the company through the time consuming bidding process. He over saw the awarding of the contract, the single largest contract in the history of the company. Janice Jordan, office manager of long standing, ably worked through many construction meetings and monthly bookkeeping needed to keep the project on track to meet the construction schedule.
Marsh Nabors, restoration specialist and leaded glass studio production manager, diligently oversaw all aspects of the restoration process. His career at PRGS has included advanced training in restoration techniques that gave him and the company the knowledge and experience to tackle the restoration of the three monumental stained glass windows in the north grand staircase. His work on restoring the Native American, Mother Mississippi, and the Frontiersman windows was the culmination of well over a decade of the demanding craft and art of restoring historic stained glass.
“Maintaining the level of craftsmanship that originally went into the monumental windows was a challenge. As a lifelong citizen of Mississippi it was a honor to work on and complete this job.”
-Marsh Nabors, Stained Glass Production Manager
Joy Kichi, kiln formed glass production manager and studio artist, methodically searched and sourced the many types and colors of stained glass needed in the restoration. The Mississippi Department of Archives and History consulted for the approval of the glass selections and the custom copper paint for the lead cames in the monumental windows. From the beginning of the project the intent was to return the stained glass windows to as close to their original condition as possible. Joy ’s work on matching the glass was a key part in the success of this endeavor.
Bob Hudson, installation manager, and his able crew, had the huge task of safely removing all of the stained glass windows in their wooden sashes and transporting them to the studio so the work could take place on their restoration. Many hands make quick work and through the sixteen month long process Bob was assisted by Austin Richardson, Mikael Jury, Paul Farrar, Jon Michael Kenney, Patrick Johnson and Peter Hammond.
Tom Crouch, design manager, assisted the process at every turn by brainstorming technical solutions for the reinstallation of the stained glass including exterior clear safety glass in the modified wood sashes. He designed and printed the required cartoon patterns for many of the windows. There was not an aspect of this project that Tom did not have a hand in by keeping the myriad details and processes on track and done in a timely manner.
Seventy six windows were removed and restored. Many of the windows were double hung window sashes and included an upper and lower sash. A total of 125 individual panels of stained glass were completely restored. Each of one of the total 25,000 individual pieces of glass was cleaned and restored to its original beauty. Every person in the studio participated in some fashion in this all-encompassing project. Each window had to be taken apart. Large soaking baths were set up on production tables to minimize the dust and the windows were taken apart. Once clean and replacement glass chosen, approved and cut the windows were re-leaded with special high quality restoration lead cames. The studio craftsman included in this work were Marsh Nabors, Paul Farrar, Mikael Jury, Jon Michael Kenney, Adrienne Domnick, Joy Kichi, Lacy Barger Johnson, Rob Cooper, Patrick Johnson, Amelia Key, Peter Hammond, Bob Hudson, and Jonathan Sims.
The Mississippi State Legislature approved the funding of the State Capitol Dome and Exterior Renovations 2013 contract. Their support of this very important project insures that many future generations will be able to visit our state capitol and enjoy the beautiful historical structure.