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Case Study: Saint Martin's Episcopal Church

Client: Saint Martin's Episcopal Church
Location: Houston, Texas, United States
Glass Installation Date: May 2004
Cost: $3.5 million dollars

About The Client
Saint Martin's Episcopal Church, located in Houston, Texas, began a capital campaign for a new church to house its over 7,000 members. The Reverend Dr. Laurence Gipson's vision for the new church was to emulate the gothic churches of Europe and England, specifically Chartres, the definitive gothic cathedral in France. The iconography for the thirty-six windows of the new church was extensive, with the Chancel Rose window to depict the Resurrection of Christ.

Project Overview
The Reverend Dr. Gipson recalled the impressive stained glass Willet Hauser had created when he was Rector of The Church of the Ascension in Knoxville, Tennessee. Confident that the project would be in good hands, in June 2000 St. Martin's commissioned Willet Hauser Architectural Glass to design, fabricate, and install 36 large highly detailed, hand painted, kiln fired windows at a cost of over 3.5 million dollars. The target date was for completion by Easter 2004, in 22 months. According to St. Martin's business manager, William Kovach, Willet Hauser's past accomplishments with high volumes and large projects, the sheer beauty of their workmanship, and their ability to complete the project in the short time span were the deciding factors in choosing Willet Hauser.

There were 22 craftspeople fabricating St. Martin's windows, three different installation crews and numerous office and library staff utilized for pre-and post fabrication tasks over a period of 22 months.

Approximately 133,000 pieces of stained glass were used in the 36 windows and about 150 pounds of glass paints. While most of the glass selected was from Lamberts Glasshutt in Germany, the Willet Hauser international reach enabled the selection of glass from around the world, including France, England, Poland, and West Virginia.

The stained glass was set into aluminum frames that were set into cast stone. Each section of glass in the windows weighed approximately 40-50 pounds. There were 485 sections, so the total weight of all the windows was almost 12 tons.

The time allotted for completion, 22 months, was the most formidable challenge. Organizing the artistic talent was the hardest part of this time crunch. Willet Hauser tailored the workflow so that many windows could be fabricated simultaneously while maintaining the high degree of quality that is the hallmark of the company's success. Transporting that much glass from Willet Hauser Studios in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Houston, Texas was another challenge. Willet Hauser shipped 485 sections of leaded glass and not a single piece of glass was broken in transit.

St. Martin's new church had to be built with minimal disruption for its members. "We wanted parishioners to be able to focus on worship, not whether a brick was going to fall on their head," said Kovach. "It was imperative that we not lose members. Because of Willet Hauser's commitment to this goal, we were successful."

Key Customer Benefits
The parishioners wanted their new church to reflect their traditional spirit, traditional worship and traditional music. The exquisite workmanship of the windows anchors this sense of tradition, along with a sense of awe and reverence in parishioners and visitors alike.

"The windows definitely add to the WOW! effect on anyone stepping inside the church," says Kovach. "They are just beautiful. The windows came out exactly as we had imagined them."

Client Feedback
"We were very impressed and appreciative of Willet Hauser's participation in preparing presentation packages and then actually helping to sell the windows to individual subscribers. We would not build any window unless someone purchased it up front. Willet Hauser made that process so easy. We thought it might take years, but we had a rush of people who wanted in on the project."

"We wielded a heavy hammer with all the contractors about completion dates. The Willet Hauser organization impressed us with their enthusiasm and dedication to achieving our goal."

"The most impressive thing about Willet Hauser's participation in the project, besides their exquisite workmanship and artistry, was the enthusiasm and excitement shown by the artists themselves. It was refreshing to see the look of awe on the faces of the artists when they saw their completed work."

See more pictures of the Saint Martin's Episcopal Church windows.