Church of the Cross

When Father Chuck Owens, rector of The Church of the Cross in Bluffton, SC, set out to find the perfect focal point for the new Chapel at the Cross Schools campus on Buckwalter Parkway, the spirit of the school was his first priority. While searching online, he came across the antique piece entitled “Jesus with the Children.” The tiffany style window was originally crafted in Germany in the 1890s by an unknown artist. Initially part of a larger set depicting scenes from the ministry of Jesus, the window was commissioned for a Lutheran church in Canada. When the church closed decades ago, the window was purchased by a private collector who later offered it for sale on consignment to the A.W. Hamer Company in Boston, Massachusetts. From there, Father Owens purchased the window and had it completely restored by Rohlf’s Studios in Mt. Vernon, New York before being shipped to Bluffton, SC. “The scene is everything I want for this Chapel,” stated Father Chuck “we have set out to ensure that every child who comes through those doors discovers the love of the savior and the scene depicted here shows just that.”

For Fraser Construction, the installation of the window was a serious challenge that required some ingenious creativity from their team of engineers. The window could not be altered visually but needed to be protected from the exterior elements of the Lowcountry such as hurricane force winds. In addition, the window space would need to be rated for thermal insulation. The conclusion was that the aesthetics of the stained glass could be preserved for the inside of the church if a storefront type window was installed on the exterior of the church behind the stained glass.

The first proposed solution was to build a simple two-inch horizontal mullion with the rated window serving as a second pane. Unfortunately, it is not possible to get one contiguous piece of glass up to code and the mullion cast strong shadows across the stained-glass window compromising the aesthetics of the tiffany style scene. After much brainstorming and deliberation, Jay Fraser came up with the final solution: they must construct a shadow box. He pulled the store front window away from the exterior wall by three feet, made a second wall three feet back, angled a piece of matching roof down at a forty-five degrees and painted the inside of the box white so that the sun could reflect naturally. The three-foot separation of the shadow box was enough to diffuse the shadows of the mullions while protecting the antique stained-glass from the exterior elements. The result is a perfectly preserved and absolutely beautiful depiction of Jesus with his children.

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