Old windows from Slippery Rock home to aid Harmony restoration

January 4, 2019 Cranberry Local News

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HARMONY — Some old glass from Slippery Rock will soon have new life in Harmony.

That's the way Rodney Gasch, Historic Harmony president, likes to talk about the project to restore windows at the Wagner Haus — a historic house next door to the Harmony Museum — to a style that replicates the original Harmonist design.

Part of the project now includes repurposing 19th century glass that is being donated to Historic Harmony.

“We first announced this project a year ago, got the grant this fall and then heard from a farmer up near Slippery Rock who lives in his great-great-great-grandfather's house,” Gasch said.

That farmer is Glenn Studebaker. He and his wife, Pearl, saved the windows from their home after they renovated it about a year ago.

They put the old windows aside for safekeeping, rather than tossing them in a dumpster as Gasch suggested most people might be inclined to do.

Glenn Studebaker offered the old wavy glass to Gasch after seeing an article in the Butler Eagle about the window project in Harmony.

“We just remodeled our old brick house, and these windows came out of the house,” Glenn Studebaker said.

Pearl Studebaker said she visited Harmony often as a little girl, which made the connection even more meaningful.

When these buildings were built in the first decade of the 1800s, Gasch said, they had a particular window style. At some point in the late 1800s or early 1900s, they put in a new design — the affordable modern windows that “kind of ignored the historic look.”

Glenn Studebaker said he didn't know exactly when his house was built or how old the windows are, but he believes they date back to the late 1820s or early 1830s.

The original Harmonist design to which the windows will be restored is a 10-pane window, rather than the more common four. The differences in designs can be seen on the “pane relief” sign outside the Wagner Haus.

Gasch said they were very lucky to have found one original window left on an interior wall.

“It was covered, and we're going to be able to remake this design,” he said. “We are so blessed to have almost two dozen buildings in Harmony that date to the first period of the 1800s, and these old buildings need love and attention.”

Allied Millwork in Pittsburgh will cut and reset the glass for this project, Gasch said.

“The first question (asked) was, 'Where are the windows from?' because old windows in Pittsburgh have been etched from all the smoke and pollution. So, if it were from the North Side, for instance, it would be permanently milky or smoke etched and unusable,” Gasch explained. “But from a farm in Slippery Rock won't be any problem.”

Gasch said he anticipates the windows to be installed in the summer.

“There are a whole lot of pieces in a chain that have to happen,” Gasch said.

While the glass will be a help, the preservation project will still cost $150,000.

The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission awarded to Historic Harmony a $72,000 grant that covers nearly half of the project, and the rest of the $150,000 needed is being raised through donations.

Gasch said the total raised for the project reached $95,000 Wednesday, and he recently started a GoFundMe page to encourage further donations.

To donate to the project, visit www.gofundme.com/harmony-museum-pane-relief or call 724-452-7341.

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