Janesville students watch installation of stained glass window they helped make

JANESVILLE, Wis. - Dozens of people crowded into Oak Hill Chapel in Janesville on Thursday morning to watch volunteers install 12 stained glass windows.

Among the people watching was a group of Janesville students who helped cut glass for the largest window, which glass artist Richard Snyder calls the jewel.

“I installed 20 jewels within the window design,” he said.

In May, Snyder spent a day teaching 10 students from each Janesville middle school to cut glass. The pieces they cut became the blue and gold borders of the window.

“I’ve never cut glass before, so when we first got in there, he showed us how,” said Clara Soto, who is now a freshman at Parker High School.

Soto stood at the side of the room watching as Snyder and several other men hoisted the jewel up to the top of the wall, where it was fitted into the front window of the chapel.

“I helped make it, so I wanted to see what it looked like,” she said.

Snyder has been working for years to restore the 118-year-old chapel, which the city almost tore down.

“They thought it was in such bad shape they just didn’t want to stick $400,000 into redoing it, and for what purpose?” Snyder said. “I just grew up a few blocks away from here, would ski down the hills and ride my bike up here as a child, and when I read that article, I had to try and help and save it.”

Snyder has refurbished all 44 stained glass windows inside the chapel. After installing the 12 panels on Thursday, Snyder said he has just seven left and hopes to have them all installed by Dec. 16.

The installation on Thursday was extra special because it was one year to the date that Snyder installed 18 stained glass windows on the chapel’s north side.

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