Architecture & Preservation
5:20 am
Fri November 8, 2013

Windows in Victoria, KS church to shine brighter

Stained-glass windows undergoing restoration at St. Fidelis Catholic Church in Victoria, Kansas, the church known as the Cathedral of the Plains.
Credit Travis Heying/The Wichita Eagle

It's the Cathedral of the Plains, a landmark to travelers along Interstate 70, and its stained-glass windows will be safer and a little more brilliant now.

St. Fidelis Catholic Church in Victoria, Kansas is restoring its stained glass windows and installing new protection for the windows on this historic church, a building dedicated in 1911 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.

The old plastic protective covering from the windows was installed in the 1980s and was yellowing and becoming opaque with age. The covering wasn't letting the light in and was becoming brittle, lessening the protection the covering provided in Kansas' fierce winds.

The $155,000 project will restore the stained glass windows, recementing the glass pieces and restoring the window frames. The old protective covering will be replaced with safety glass that can withstand 150mph winds, reports the Wichita Eagle.

St. Fidelis began restoration efforts in 1994, which included weatherproofing the exterior, replastering the interior, replacing the flooring, updating the sound and electrical systems, replacing the heating system, installing air conditioning, fixing the parking lot, and removing bats from the attic.

The church, with 140 foot tall towers standing high above a town of roughly 1,200 people, attracts 15,000 visitors a year.

The stained glass windows, originally installed in 1916 at a cost of under $4,000, are now worth over $1 million.