Erosion from weather and pollution, as well as weighty braces added five decades ago, has caused the glass in all three windows to separate from their connective leading, said Al Palmer, who owns Gaytee-Palmer.
When the Cathedral called upon Gaytee-Palmer to repair three bullet-size holes in the north rose window in 2015, the craftsmen discovered that the windows were structurally unsound.
“When you just touched them, they shook,” said Palmer, 63, who encouraged Cathedral leadership to commission their restoration. “The only thing that was keeping them from falling out was that storm window.”
In early July, Gaytee-Palmer employees removed the 18-foot-diameter, south-facing window section by section. At the studio, the glass pieces are in various stages of what Palmer estimates to be an eight-week project. In that time, the pieces are cleaned, scraped of old leading, repainted as necessary, releaded and cemented — an onerous, time-consuming process because each piece is done by hand.
Restoration of the Cathedral’s north rose window is slated to begin after the south rose window is reinstalled in early September. Palmer said his company also expects to restore the east rose window at a later date.
The Cathedral Heritage Foundation, a nonprofit separate from the Cathedral parish, is fundraising the $209,000 cost for the north and south window restoration. The project will be featured at the organization’s fifth annual Cathedral Festival of Lights Sept. 25 at the InterContinental Hotel in downtown St. Paul.
“We look to the parish to identify its priorities,” said Mary Schaffner, Cathedral Heritage Foundation board chairwoman. “There is no more prominent feature other than its dome than its rose windows.”
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