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Technology Meets Preservation


After more than 100 years of serving as a place of worship and community, St. Mary's Catholic Church in Potsdam, New York, needed some work. The large stained glass windows had never been renovated, so a stained glass company was hired to perform necessary repairs. It was then discovered that the wood window frames were deteriorating, including the massive 15'x 23' rose window. Marvin Windows and Doors' Signature Services custom solutions group was contracted to replicate, in Honduran Mahogany, the 15 Gothic Revival windows.

Marvin, like St. Mary's, has a history over 100 years old. Over time, the family-owned business, still anchored in a small town in northern Minnesota, has become an industry leader with a reputation for quality craftsmanship, innovative products, and an unwavering commitment to both service and community. Marvin's "Built around you" promise means every window is built to order to provide each customer with exactly the window solution their project needs.

The colossal windows at St. Mary's required an equally herculean effort to replace them. Marvin Signature Services was up to the challenge. Marvin called on MacNeil Architects Ltd., historic renovation experts, to provide exacting window construction designs. After more than a century of weathering, shifting and settling, no two openings were alike. Measurements for each new window needed to be precise to accommodate fixed stone and glass dimensions.

The MacNeils employed a variety of state-of-the-art digital measuring techniques, including tacheometric survey software in combination with rectified photography  as well as full-size frame rubbings and glass tracings  to gather exact measurements. BIM and CAD/ CAM technology, cyber models, and cutter designs downloaded directly to Marvin's CNC equipment allowed window fabrication to be a paperless process. Marvin Signature worked on the St. Mary's project for a year before window construction was even started  engineering the wood window replications for superior structural strength, obtaining accurate measurements, and collaborating with the stained glass refurbishers. The glass was carefully removed from the original pine window units in 2010 to start the replacement process.

All the window structures were multi-layered mahogany with staggered joints. The rose window was constructed of 816 precisely cut and joined components. When installed, it fit perfectly in the opening, ready for the original stained glass images to be replaced for the next century. A spirit of collaboration and pride filled the project, with workers signing the concealed edge of the windows per an old carpentry tradition from Europe. Members of the congregation got to watch as, window by window, their worship space was revitalized. Worship services continued without interruption throughout the renovation process.

For more information, visit www.marvin.com.









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