Toronto's Massey Hall restoring 125-year-old stained glass windows
A team of glaziers is painstakingly working to bring back to life nearly 100 stained glass windows that were boarded up at Toronto’s Massey Hall in what is believed to be the largest secular stained glass restoration project in Canadian history.
When the national historic site first opened 125 years ago in 1894, it was principally a choral music venue. Its architect, Sidney Badgley, also designed churches so the inclusion of stained glass windows in the design of Massey Hall – Canada’s oldest functioning concert hall – was not surprising.
The windows “would have looked stunning when the building first opened,” said Eve Guinan, the owner of the Toronto-based EGD Glass, which is one of the two firms responsible for restoring the windows to their original glory.
But in the 1990s, the windows were boarded up to make the concert hall more soundproof, particularly as the streets around the building got nosier and the city grew up around the building.
The result is that the windows are not only severely damaged, but also dirty and full of caked-on grime.
Restoring the glass is a difficult task, Guinan said.
“You obviously have to be careful dealing with glass and glass we can’t always replace,” she said.
The colours of the glass have also changed, often as a result of damage from UV rays. The paint used to create the original windows also contained lead, which makes finding an exact colour match tricky.
The restoration of the windows is part of a two-year project to revitalize Massey Hall that is expected to cost $139 million and be completed in 2020.
“Massey is a jewel in the crown of Toronto, so it will just bring it alive,” Guinan said. “Having looked at all the schematics, it’s going to be stunning."