Historic glass tiles found in downtown building form meaningful replacement pane

Updated: Jun. 5, 2019 at 4:30 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - After Hurricane Florence hit downtown Wilmington, there was concern that a piece of the building at 210 North Front Street might never be restored to its original standard.

Some planning by the building’s owners and the hard work of several people helped preserve that part of the structure’s history.

A gaping hole was left in the property when the hurricane blew out a window made of prismatic glass originally installed around 1920.

New prismatic glass has not been made since the 30s, since electricity made use of it essentially obsolete.

“We thought at first we wouldn’t be able to restore the panel with the original glass tiles, but as we investigated, our contractor working on removing the window found a box full of tiles scattered about above the ceiling of the gift shop,” Full Spectrum Design Firm owner and CEO Mary Anne Hewett said. “It was a relief and exciting to find such beauty hidden away.”

Bill and Patricia McClanahan own Enchanted Realm, a stained glass studio a few blocks down the street from 210 North Front. The McClanahans took those tiles and remade a pristine, eight-foot long window that will help maintain the historic feel of the property.

According to Bill McClanahan, the window — which was installed by Full Spectrum’s crew Wednesday afternoon — should last 100 years.

“There’s just been so many things, especially in this building, that we’ve encountered that Florence destroyed so it’s been great being part of the repair process,” Hewett said.

Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo was one of several people who stopped by to take a look at the project and even though intermittent showers and gusty winds hit the downtown area during the installment, several passersby also stopped to watch.

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