The knowledge of a craftsman used to be valued and treasured – handed down from one generation to another. Craftsmen used to marvel in their trades and proudly hang their sign to note their skill: blacksmith, leather worker, gunsmith, brickmaker. In Bartlett, we still have the benefit of some of these craftsmen who polish their skills and hone their trades. One such craftsman has been hard at work, tirelessly restoring the windows at the old Bartlett Presbyterian Church over on W Pietzsch Street. Mike Bean says he learned everything he knows from his grandfather. He got his name and his knowledge of carpentry from Michael Leo Flory. His grandfather was a master carpenter and cabinet maker. Mike spent many long hours with him and took to heart his methods and tricks of the trade, which undoubtedly he got from his grandfather too. From this training, Mike has been able to apply his skills to restore the original historic windows in the old church by hand, one by one.
He has taken each one down to the original wood, removing over one hundred years of paint and debris. He has also restored each pane of glass – each window has 11 panes of glass. Mike will tell you that equates to 88 corners per window! Each window had to be reglazed, glass reinstalled, and then rehung and balanced with very old window weights. Each window pane took several weeks to work through the entire process of restoration and reglazing.
As Mike has spent tireless hours restoring the windows, each week he has fondly recalled tips and tricks that his grandfather told him. With each window, he has recalled ways to perfect his skills and make the process smoother and better!
Today it is so much faster and easier to take out the old windows and install new prefabricated modern windows, but there is no beauty in replacing the old windows. There is no history and no story in throwing out the historic windows. I can say it would have been much cheaper and a whole lot quicker, but the character of those old windows, the beauty of the wood, the idea that they have stood the test of time and will continue to do so now for another 100 years, thanks to Mike and his grandfather Michael, is priceless.
The old Bartlett Presbyterian Church will be finished in just a few weeks and will be held open for the community to view the building and marvel at the old historic windows and the work of our local craftsman.