The Pearl Harbor Memorial Community Church is a renowned historic structure located in Moanalua, a beautiful residential neighborhood in Honolulu, Hawaii. The church was built in 1958 to commemorate the servicemen who fought in Pearl Harbor and dedicated their lives to protecting our country. Also known as “The Church of the Memorial Window,” the Moanalua church is home to a stunning stained glass mural that serves as the front wall of the building. The mural is the church’s most prominent feature and is a truly captivating work of art. Unfortunately, due to its age and oceanside location, it was beginning to decline in condition. Our team was called in to preserve the historic feature and restore the stained glass.
About the Pearl Harbor Memorial Window
The Pearl Harbor Memorial Window is an enchanting composition that measures forty-four feet across and thirty feet high, and consists of 140 separate sections. It was designed by John Wallace of Wallace-Wiley Studio in Pasadena, California. When it was built, it became the largest single window installation in the United States. The design is a beautiful symbol of unity and is perfect for the non-denominational church which welcomes all religions. Religious symbols from cultures around the world are intricately woven together in the design along with imagery representing our country’s remarkable history and armed forces. It is a stunning tribute to those who worked to earn peace during conflict and gave their lives to serve.
Problems & Concerns with the Stained Glass
We were contacted by the church committee because some of the elders had noticed signs of deterioration in the stained glass. The window faces towards the ocean and is less than a mile from the beach. Over the years, it had been exposed to salt in the air, storms, and strong winds, which had taken their toll on the condition of the stained glass.
The church elders noticed that there were some broken pieces of glass and some of the windows seemed to be warping. They were also concerned about the condition of the woodwork on the outside. When they looked closely, they could see that some of the metal surrounding the glass was buckling. Because this was a historic window, they wanted to be sure that it could be preserved.
How We Approached the Restoration Process
We began the restoration process with an assessment of the stained glass. Our owner, Martin Faith, flew to Honolulu so he could inspect the stained glass in-person. He diligently inspected every piece of glass on every window panel, using a ladder to reach the places that were higher up.
There was no protective glass on the outside, which, in some ways, worked in the church’s favor since protective glass without vents can cause the panels to heat up and deteriorate quickly. Unfortunately, it also meant the stained glass was unprotected and there was a little damage from rocks kicked up by lawnmowers over the years.
Once Martin completed the inspection, he wrote a detailed report for the church on every single one of the 140 panels that made up the whole window. Fortunately, about 70% of the panels were in good shape, which meant that we would only need to restore about 30% of them. Martin then worked with the church leadership to identify the panels that were in the worst condition and in need of immediate repairs. This approach allowed the available funds to be used for the maximum benefit.
We decided that the best way to tackle this project was to have our installers fly out and bring the glass back to Colorado for restoration. The team removed the glass and build custom crates to transport the panels, which were shipped back to our studio. We used lift equipment to carefully remove the glass and put plywood in its place. Then, the panels were placed in the crates and shipped to our studio by ocean freight.
We spent about three months taking all the glass apart, replacing each piece of lead, and restoring the broken pieces of glass. Then, we put the panels back together again, packed them into the crates, and shipped them to Honolulu. Our team then flew out to meet the crates and reinstalled the stained glass.
We were able to complete all repairs and reinstall the stained glass in just four months. The exterior wood on the outside wall of the church was repaired by a local contractor and the window looks brand new again.
The restored panels will last another 100 years and the rest have at least 20-30 years of life left in them. The church committee is thrilled about this since they thought that all 140 panels would need to be fixed immediately. This would have been a financially burdensome endeavor. Fortunately, we were able to come up with a solution that allowed the repairs to be completed within their budget and in a short time frame. This beautiful piece of history will be kept alive for many years to come.
Bring new life and beauty to your church with Church Stained Glass Restoration from Scottish. Contact our office to speak to a designer about your project or to receive an estimate on our services.