Unitarian Church of All Souls

Unitarian Church of All Souls

Location
1157 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10075, United States | View Map
Category
Churches
Del Rossi Photography

Historic New York church windows restored with authentic mouth-blown glass from Bendheim

Bendheim as Manufacturers

All Souls NYC, a Unitarian church of historic significance, has completed restoration work to its 90-year-old sanctuary on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. As part of this ambitious project, the church’s large neo-Georgian windows were completely replaced using authentic mouth-blown glass from Bendheim. 

 

The Unitarian Church of All Souls traces its origins back to 1819, and its members have included such prominent New Yorkers as William Cullen Bryant, Calvert Vaux, and Peter Cooper. The present Colonial Revival church, designed by Hobart Upjohn, was dedicated in 1932.

photo_credit Del Rossi Photography
Del Rossi Photography

By the early 21st century, this Depression-era structure was in serious disrepair. Major problems included a crack in the steeple, leaks in the slate roof and periodic failures of an outdated sewage pump system. Many of the church windows had broken panes or could no longer be closed with the original hand cranks. 

 

renovation effort. To design and direct the work, All Souls chose Studio Kraeher Architects, whose principal brought experience with the renovation of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Repairs began in early 2019 and were essentially complete by July 2020, although the impact of COVID-19 prevented an immediate return to normal services. By the spring of 2022, All Souls could resume public worship in a refreshed and rebuilt space.

photo_credit Del Rossi Photography
Del Rossi Photography

The replacement of the large sanctuary windows was a critical portion of the project, given their importance to the building’s Colonial aesthetic. When the quality of the glass proposed by subcontractors proved disappointing, All Souls embarked on a search for the right material. Ultimately, the church selected Bendheim’s authentic mouth-blown glass, which recreates the wavy “antique” appearance of preindustrial glasswork. 

 

Each pane of glass is hand-made in Germany by the glassblowers at Glashütte Lamberts. For the work at All Souls, the architect specified a subtle tint for some of the panes, in one of seven different shades. Light entering the sanctuary is gently diffused, with the slightest hint of color. The new windows are double-paned for energy conservation and now meet ANSI standards for water and air infiltration.

 

Tower Insulating Glass of North Bellmore, NY incorporated Bendheim’s artisanal glass in IGUs. Project Manager Eduardo James supervised on-site assembly of the windows for the construction management firm E.W. Howell, uniting the glass with frames that had been made to order by MHB in the Netherlands. Bronx-based Kilroy Architectural Windows performed the installation. 

photo_credit Del Rossi Photography
Del Rossi Photography

All Souls was fortunate in numbering several experienced architects among its members, allowing the church’s Building Advisory Task Force to bring professional expertise to the project. For example, Task Force Chair Louis F. “Fritz” Reuter IV had previously served as Executive Director of the Capital Master Plan for the United Nations and as Senior Vice President for Facilities Management at NewYork-Presbyterian. Reuter and his colleagues understood how important the choice of glass would be to the final outcome, and were willing to make it a high priority.

 

“We knew what we were looking for, and luckily, someone connected us with Bendheim. Once they had supplied us with samples, we could see that their product was superior to everyone else’s in terms of quality, color, and impact,” explained Reuter.  

photo_credit Del Rossi Photography
Del Rossi Photography

Architect Rolando Kraeher visited Bendheim’s warehouse in Wayne, NJ to select the exact range of glass colors required for this historic restoration. He was assisted by Bendheim co-owner Steven Jayson, who credits the centuries-old artisanal mouth-blown method for the wide range of glass hues available to clients. Colors can be created in relatively small batches through the addition of precise amounts of metal oxides, such as cobalt, silver, and gold.

 

“We are extremely proud of our partnership with the artisans at Lamberts, and of our ability to supply glass of this quality for historic restoration projects,” noted Jayson. “When recapturing the style of times past, only authentic mouth-blown glass will do.” 

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