What is going on in the Koinonia Room?

One of the more pressing questions the Historic Preservation Committee has been receiving as of late is about the scaffolding in the Koinonia Room. Aren’t we just dealing with the rose window? The answer is we are dealing with both simultaneously.

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The skylights in the Kononia Room have bowed significantly in their frames. Their state of deterioration is such that repair work cannot wait without further risk of endangering the people below if a seismic event were to occur. Their removal also coincided well with the removal of the rose window so both stained glass pieces are being addressed at the same time.

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While the glass is removed church staff will also be repainting the interior of the skylights and addressing the rusting on the frames. The process should take a few weeks. Preventive maintenance like this will ensure that the newly cleaned and repaired glass will stay secure in their frames for a long time to come.

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Interior of skylight. Note rust on frame and previous water damage.

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Removed skylights being cleaned

 

How is a rose window removed?

Our rose window is comprised of four layers: a terracotta exterior, a mortar and metal interior, the stained glass panes, and the interior wood frame.

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All of the windows must be vacuumed before they can be taken out. Dust and debris can obscure underlying damage and hinder the removal process so this seemingly simple step is actually critical to success.

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Once the glass is cleaned, a portion of the wood frame called a functional stop must be removed. The functional stop is not the entire frame but rather a thin strip of wood that is nailed to the structural frame to hold the glass in place.

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After the functional stop is removed, a curved tool is used to release the glass from the old putty. In most cases there is leading around the outside of the glass but in some cases, the glass sits right up against the frame.

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The glass is then taped together with masking tape. This ensures that broken pieces stay together during transport.

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As soon as the window is removed, the remnants of the old putty are vacuumed up and the pane is replaced with a cream colored glass. The cream glass is held by a silicone caulk, which is further stabilized by foam functional stops that are nailed into the structural frame.

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The glass panes and functional stops will be restored offsite at J. Michael Designs studio. Once the exterior terracotta is repaired the glass will be returned to the sanctuary in approximately six months.

The Setup

After two years of committee meetings, a congregational vote, and plenty of consultations with experts and city officials the First Congregational Church of Long Beach is beginning its exterior facade restoration project!

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The east (Cedar St.) facade where work will begin

This is the most extensive work done since the old building was retrofitted in 1988. It will involve removing all of the stained glass panes in the rose window, filling all of the cracks in the terracotta, replacing all of the damaged bricks, and re-pointing the mortar

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Detail photo taken from a boom lift

The stained glass removal kicks off the project. It is very important that the fragile glass is out before work on the surrounding terracotta and brickwork begins. The glass panes will be carefully cleaned then removed from the inside using specialized tools and labor.

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Interior of east rose window

It sounds easier than it actually is. In order to even begin working on the glass panels Mike and his trusty team has to relocate existing pews made of solid mahogany (very heavy!). After removing the pews, a flat platform must be built on the sloping grade of the balcony for the scaffolding to be erected from. Once the scaffolding is erected the windows will be removed, one pane at a time!

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Relocated pews

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Beginnings of a stable platform

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Fully erected scaffolding