Previous Projects


1977: Protective coverings installed on windows

  • Alpha Art Glass Company installed Lexan coverings to the exterior of the windows in Second Presbyterian Church.

1989: Cleaning and paint analysis done on mural

  • In July, the Denver-based company, The Grammar of Ornament, performed a paint analysis and cleaning on the west half of the mural in the western-most archway on the north side of the sanctuary, located above Tiffany’s “Pastoral Window.” Various cleaning techniques were tested and a lime poultice was eventually used to remove embedded coal dust and oil, on which the previous cleaning solutions tested had had no effect. A reversible varnish was applied to the cleaned surface of the mural.


1995: Damaged heralding angel repaired

  • Vandals broke into Second Presbyterian through the western-most clerestory window on the north side of the sanctuary, jumping onto the choir screen by first landing on and breaking the wing of the North heralding angel. Botti Studios repaired the statue.


1995-1999: Work done on two memorial windows

  • stpaulpreachingArthur Femenella and John Wardell Clark, along with twelve volunteers, performed some basic cleaning and minimal restoration on two of Second Presbyterian’s memorial windows: Tiffany’s The Angel at the Open Tomb and St. Paul Preaching at Athens.
  • The memorial panel was removed from The Angel at the Open Tomb and re-leaded before being reinstalled.
  • One 36”x61” panel was removed, cleaned, and re-leaded from St. Paul Preaching at Athens.


2001: Roof replaced

  • The 1901 slate roof was replaced at some point with asphalt shingles, which were failing, allowing water to penetrate the roof and traveling down the sanctuary walls to cause considerable damage to the interior plaster. Knickerbocker Roofing was hired by the congregation to replace the roof using new slate tiles.


2008: Bell tower window restored*

klopsch1Bill Klopsch Stained Glass cleaned and restored the stencil glass window located on the south façade of the bell tower (window is original to Renwick’s design). As much as possible of the original glass was repaired and reused, with minimal pieces of glass replaced.






2008-2009: Murals cleaned and restored*

  • cccmuralwork2 cccmuralwork 2008: The Chicago Conservation Center (CCC: Dr. Margaret Nowosielska, Chief Mural Conservator, and Dorota Bobek, Associate Mural Conservator) performed test-cleaning on the third archway from the east on the north side of the sanctuary. Approximately 60% of the west half of the arch was cleaned, while the east half was partially treated to illustrate the three phases of the conservation process: Initial Phase used a dry eraser to remove surface grime; Secondary Phase used a mild detergent to remove soot and grime; Final Phase removed embedded grime and discolored varnish using a combination of solvents. Some inpainting was done in areas of particular deterioration and the surface was finished with a protective layer of varnish, which is reversible and can be removed in the future, if need be, without harming the original paint layer. 
  • 2009: CCC performed conservation work and cleaning on the third archway mural from the east and the first archway scripture from the east, both on the south side of the sanctuary. The same techniques and solutions were used on these murals as were used on the north side mural. Additionally, as the lettering was illegible after cleaning, this portion of the mural was reinforced by first applying an isolating layer of varnish to act as a protective barrier over the letters, and then overpainting the letters with reversible tempera paint in a light blue-gray tone. 

Bell clapper restored

  • In the summer of 2009, John LaMonica of Butler Street Foundry and Iron Company repaired the clapper mechanism which sounds Second Presbyterian’s stationary bell. LaMonica, a preservationist, removed it, repaired the clapper at his foundry, and reinstalled the piece in order to have the bell sound once again. 


2009: Baptismal font test cleaning*

  • The Chicago Conservation Center performed test cleaning on a rear section of the limestone baptismal font, located at the front of the sanctuary. The font is extremely fragile so it was decided to perform all conservation work at Second Presbyterian rather than de-installing the font and removing it to the CCC’s studio. 


2010: Preservation Plan*

  • With a $35,000 anonymous gift from a foundation, Friends has developed a comprehensive Preservation Plan for the entire church complex. Prepared by Anne Sullivan of Sullivan|Preservation and a team of experts, the report provides a detailed look at the mechanicals of the church, the exterior structure and foundation, the windows, the stained glass, the lighting fixtures, the carpet and fabric. It is a planning document that will serve as a long-term master plan for the preservation work to come, as well as a tool in future fundraising. It includes an assessment of existing conditions with prioritized recommendations and estimates of probable cost, as well as a review of past outside reports. The Presevation Plan is a necessary document to guide Friends in prioritizing preservation projects and to assure potential funders of the soundness of the structure and Friends' commitment to the mission.


2010: Front door refinished*


Shamrock Decorating, Inc. performed hand cleaning with TSP and power tool sanding on the front entry door. A coat of Sikkens Cetol stain system was applied to the wood, followed by a coat of Sikkens Cetol varnish. 


2011: Globe Fixtures Restored**

  • A lighting fixture craftsman, Peter Jenko, was retained to undertake the restoration work of the "Sun" and "Moon" globe fixtures hanging high above the choir loft.  The fixtures were re-wired and the clasps and hanging supports were repaired.  In addition, Mr. Jenko removed the accumulation of years of dirt and grime from each fixture and fitted the fixtures with new cloth lining. The restored globes were re-hung by an electrician and supplied with long-life LED light bulbs. Cleaning the globes revealed intricate bird and flower details, and striking butterfly clasps on the large sun globe.  Based upon their patterns and details, Mr. Jenko theorized that the globes may be of Japanese origin.  Others suggested a Turkish, Egyptian or Indian origin. **This project was a joint effort between Second Presbyterian Church and Friends.

  • Globe website

2011-2012: Finishes Analysis*

  • Friends was awarded a $10,000 grant by the National Trust for Historic Preservation from the Kohler Intervention Grant for the Midwest. These funds were matched by an anonymous donor. The $20,000 budget was used to execute a finishes analysis of interior areas of the church including the Sanctuary, Narthex and adjoining rooms, Fellowship Hall, and the North Parlor. The finishes analysis includes documentation of the current and 1901 appearance of the rooms, including plaster, painted surfaces, and stencil motifs. Anthony Kartsonas of Historic Surfaces LLC completed the work in April 2012. It is the final addition to the Preservation Plan prepared by Sullivan Preservation in 2010.


 2012: Bell Tower Window Repair*


  • Bill Klopsch was once again enlisted to address a Renwick designed stencil glass window from the Bell Tower. This east facing window was missing a pane. By using the silkscreens Klopsch created for the 2008 repair, vitreous paint was screened onto glass pieces, and kiln fired to make the paint permanent. The pane was replaced in January 2012.


2012: Morris Windows Project*

  • The two east-facing windows designed by Edward Burne-Jones and made by William Morris and Company are presently obscured behind protective Lexan glazing darkened with age. In May 2012 the old Lexan will be replaced with new. The new Lexan will be clear, revealing the vibrant windows from the exterior, and ventilated, creating a better environment for the glass.

2013: Northwest Corner Project*

  • In 2012, the plaster and paint surrounding three windows in the northwest corner beneath the balcony were damaged by water infiltration.  After the source of the water was identified and secured, Kelly Plastering repaired the damaged plaster where possible and replicated sections of damaged decorative trim and crown molding which had been damaged beyond repair.  Architectural conservator Robert Furhoff conducted paint analysis to identify the historic paint colors originally used for the sanctuary.  Shamrock Decorating painted the walls, ceiling, and trim in these colors as the first part of returning the entire sanctuary to its historic appearance.  This project was made possible by a Landmarks Illinois Heritage Fund Grant, a generous gift from an anonymous donor, and contributions from many members of both Second Presbyterian Church as well as Friends of Historic Second Church.
2013: Exterior Library Door*
  • Following repairs undertaken by Second Presbyterian Church, Friends supervised the repainting of the exterior library door.  Architectural conservator Robert Furhoff identified the original 1874 paint color and the painting was done by Shamrock Decorating.



2014: Exterior Doors*

  • After the successful completion of the Library Door restoration, Friends began planning to restore the remaining exterior doors.  Decades of weather and environmental pollutants had left the historic wooden doors of the church damaged and in need of repair.  Following a successful fundraisng campaign in early 2014, the remaining exterior doors which are original to James Renwick's 1874 design for the church were repaired and painted in their original color.

 InProgress website          Finished website


2015: Colby Chair Restoration*

  • Damage was repaired on one of two Windsor sack-back arm chairs which were purchased for the congregation from the Colby furniture company as part of the 1901 restoration.


2016: East Wall Sconce Restoration*

  • The four leaded glass sconces, located on the church's east wall set in between the Five Scourges windows, were designed by Howard Van Doren Shaw and fabricated by Willy H. Lau.  They are unusual in that each sconce has four light bulbs positioned in front of, rather than behind, the large leaded glass panels.  Years of exposure to the light bulbs' heat had softened the lead and caused the panels to deflect to the point that they were in danger of breaking apart.  In January 2016, Peter Janko of Lumenelle removed the fixtures, flattened the panels, repaired broken pieces of glass, stabilized the lead caming, and completely rewired the sconces.  LED bulbs which simulate the appearance of historic carbon filament bulbs, but do not give off the heat of incandescent bulbs, sconces are reinstalled.

Restored sconce


2016: Exterior Masonry and Window Repair**

  • In March, crews began erecting scaffolding around the bell tower to prepare for extensive work on the masonry and windows. The project, which was completed in August, involved the repair and replacement of numerous pieces of three types of stone including a Joliet limestone (the original was quarried on the north side of Chicago), an Indiana limestone, and sandstone. Selected pieces were replaced in their entirety, others had “Dutchman repairs” when only a small section was in need of repair, and some required retooling to match the existing architectural detailing. Work to the windows  included extensive epoxy repairs to the original 1874 wood tracery openings, and replication of the original sashes, as well as repainting in the historic colors. The work was performed by Bulley and Andrews Masonry Restoration and Jensen Window, under the supervisor of Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc.

2016: Southeast Corner Restoration

  • The Southest Corner restoration project finished in November. It began with a leak in the roof resulted in extensive damage to the plaster surrounding the 1892 Tiffany window located at the southeast corner of the sanctuary in the balcony.  While the roof has been replaced and no further leaking is occurring, the plaster continued to crumble, resulting in one of the Frederic Clay Bartlett murals peeling away from the wall.  Kelly Plastering and The Conservation Center coordinated efforts to restore this corner of the balcony to Shaw's original design.  Plaster was stabilized, patched and repaired. Then the mural was cleaned and reattached to the wall. Finally the walls were painted in the 1901 colors*Indicates a Friends of Historic Second Church project

Mural and plaster 

Before the Restoration

Photo Courtsey of William Tyre

IMG 2876

After the restoration.

Photo Courtsey of Conservation Center

2017 Baptismal Font

  • The baptismal font at Second Presbyterian Church is one of the most iconic artistic elements of the sanctuary with its delicate beauty and intricate carving However, it is in ongoing peril due to its fragility and location. The limestone details of the lilies and lilies of the valley are easily broken off if the font is bumped into or leaned upon. Its location at the front of the sanctuary, while traditional for a Presbyterian church, puts it in harm’s way when there are weddings and concerts and during the monthly communion service. The font already displays substantial damage with many small design elements broken off over the years. A thorough discussion about how to best protect the font from further damage and yet not detract from its beauty has led to a practical yet stylish solution. A single C-shaped rail will be attached to four posts rising from the platform to surround the font thereby preventing people from getting too close to it while still affording access for baptisms. Rocio’s Custom Metalwork will craft the barrier using traditional materials.**Indicates a Second Presbyterian Church project

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Photo Courtsey of Nate Lielasus

† Photos by Friends of Historic Second Church



*All photos by Martin Cheung unless otherwise noted
*Interior sanctuary photo by James Caulfield