Hamilton, Ohio – A century-old stained-glass window returned to its hometown last week.
Nancy Moran donated the piece – which is actually closer to 115 years old, dating to approximately 1910 – to the Fitton Center for Creative Arts. The community arts organization officially dedicates the piece at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21.
Moran’s father – Robert I. Wehr – found the window in a property he once owned; the building now houses the Courtyard by Marriott Hamilton at 1 Riverfront Plaza.
“He was always, always interested in restoration,” Moran said of her father. “He was a carpenter and a contractor and he had a love for taking old things like that and making them look like new.”
Wehr liked the window so well it hung in his office and later in the pool room at his home. When he passed, it went to his son’s home in Cincinnati, where it was tucked away in the garage. When he passed, Moran wanted the window to come back to its city of origin.
“It’s so beautiful and it says ‘Hamilton’ in the window,” Moran said. “It made sense for it to come back to Hamilton.”
Gerry Saurber worked alongside Wehr for decades in the construction business – “He was another son to my father,” Moran said – and crafted a display case that looks like an old-fashioned window sill for the stained glass and its original frame.
Saurber and his team installed it on the third floor of the Fitton Center, where guests will see it as they step off the elevator.
(In fact, immediately following the dedication, a sold-out audience for the Fitton Jazz & Cabaret series show Take Five: An Evening of Dave Brubeck will get a look at the window on its way to see the Phil DeGreg Trio and guest saxophonist Rick Van Matre perform in the ballroom.)
“That is a lost art as far as the leaded stained glass,” Saurber said. “It’s a very delicate piece of work that some craftsman made. It’s important to preserve that kind of work because people just don’t make things like that anymore.”
“We are very grateful to Nancy and family for this beautiful gift,” said Ian MacKenzie-Thurley, Fitton Center executive director. “We also are thankful to Gerry and his team for the care and craftsmanship they provided to get it in place. And we are proud to honor Bob & Jean’s memory by hanging this window in a place where so many people will have the opportunity to see and enjoy it.”
“My parents lived in Hamilton their whole lives,” Moran said. “Our roots are in Hamilton, so that’s why I felt strongly about the window going back to Hamilton. I’m so glad it’s in a place that values art and where people can enjoy it.”