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‘It’s Never Too Late’

Friends Announce Preservation Awards

May 5, 2013
The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

By LINDA COMINS

Life Editor

Friends of Wheeling officials presented three preservation awards - all given to college students - at the preservationists' annual dinner Wednesday, May 1.

Article Photos

Photo by Scott McCloskey
Belmont College students have earned a Friends of Wheeling preservation award for restoring the windows above the Capitol Theatre marquee in downtown Wheeling. Two other Belmont students and West Virginia University graduate student Hal Gorby also received preservation awards Wednesday, May 1.


Dr. Jeanne Finstein, Friends of Wheeling president, said the honorees were chosen from about eight nominations. The organization honored:

- The doors and windows class from Belmont College's building preservation and restoration program for restoring three windows above the marquee of the Capitol Theatre in downtown Wheeling. Recognized were students Mel Cameron, Molly Dickerson, Cherryl Thompson, Brittney DiProsperis, Jacob Setzer and Katone Sims and instructor Cathie Senter.

- Belmont College students Brian Wilson and Stephanie Wright for restoring and repairing painted windows in the Tallman mausoleum at Greenwood Cemetery, Wheeling.

- Hal Gorby, a doctoral candidate at West Virginia University from Moundsville, for creating a walking tour to explore South Wheeling's industrial history.

Bekah Karelis, a Friends of Wheeling board member and archivist for the Wheeling National Heritage Area Corp., said the Belmont class offered to restore the Capitol front windows which had deteriorated sills and sashes and were missing pieces. During the process, the students analyzed the paint on the interior and exterior of the window frames and found seven layers of paint, she said.

Senter said the window glass was three-eighths of an inch thick; each window contained 40 panes and each pane weighed five pounds. The students stripped and replicated 240 pieces of wooden molding (six pieces around each pane).

Describing the logistical challenges, Senter said the window sashes were 10 feet tall and almost three inches thick. The tall windows would not fit in the Capitol's elevator so the students built wooden stretchers to carry the windows down the stairs and around tight corners. The college lab ceilings are only nine feet tall, so the students built easels and platforms to hold the windows while they worked, she said.

The project entailed 1,000 hours of donated labor plus materials, the instructor said. "What I saw from this small group of students choked me up at some points," she related.

Liz Paulus, a Friends of Wheeling board member, said Wilson and Wright restored four north-facing tracery windows in the Tallman mausoleum as a materials science project. Only 28 percent of the original glass was still usable, she said.

The two students made paper tracings of the historic glass before dissambling the windows. They conserved the remaining glass and recreated many missing pieces.

To replicate the colors of the painted (not stained) glass, Wilson and Wright traveled to Sunshine Glass in Buffalo, N.Y., to get advice on colors and textures, Paulus said.

Describing the finished windows, Paulus commented, "When the light is coming through, it's absolutely breathtaking."

Greg Smith, a Friends of Wheeling board member, said Gorby researched and developed the South Wheeling walking tour during a public history internship with WNHAC last summer. Gorby, a 2007 graduate of Wheeling Jesuit University, is writing his doctoral dissertation at WVU on Polish and Slavic immigrants in South Wheeling and Benwood from the 1890s to 1930s.

Gorby commented that workers in factories and industries "are often the forgotten in Wheeling history."