BOARDED UP FOR OVER 100 YRS., MASSEY HALL’S STAINED GLASS WINDOWS WILL SOON FACE THE SUN

There are 93 of them altogether. They were so dirty and encrusted in grime, that no one even knew they existed. But now, thanks to a team of five glaziers from TORONTO’s EGD Glass and Vitreous Glass, this vast array of stained glass is getting a second chance.

<PHOTO ABOVE – boarded up Massey Hall windows before renovations began>

Restoration expert EVE GUINAN, in an interview with David Friend of The Canadian Press, said “pigeons had gotten between the glass and the plywood, and it was full of straw and all sorts of material for nesting. There were bird skeletons, old beer bottles. It was quite a treasure trove.”<PHOTO – Chris Young, The Canadian Press>

Subject matter – portraits of legendary composers & musicians decades ago.

<PHOTO – Chris Young, The Canadian Press; holding Johann Sebastian Bach’s head>

Ms. Guinan’s team dismantles each window, washes them and reassembles them. The painting cannot be modified. Touch-ups are made on another layer of glass on top of the original. For protection against the elements all of them will be placed behind a layer of clear glass.

<PHOTO – Chris Young – the original stained glass portraits of Franz Shubert and Charles Gounod on a light table.>

Another layer of soundproof glass will keep out street noises. On top of all that, blackout blinds will close off the windows during concerts.

The revitalization project of MASSEY HALL will be finished in 2020. The budget – $139-million, contributed by the federal and provincial governments, the city, developers and private donors.

“We don’t have to knock it down and build something new,” says Eve Guinan, with relief.

<Interior of MASSEY HALL, the “Old Lady of Shuter Street”, before renovations began>

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AFTER A 30-YEAR SEARCH, MASSEY HALL’S BACH & BEETHOVEN WINDOWS HAVE BEEN FOUND

<PHOTO – @The York Pioneers>

Massey Hall’s Bach and Beethoven have been found in the basement of Roy Thomson Hall. The two stained glass windows were there all along, both in need of restoration by architectural historians from GBCA Architects.

On opening night, June 14, 1894, about 100 stained glass windows were in place around TORONTO’s brand new concert hall. Twelve composer portraits were the most expensive, painted by hand in lead, enamel, glass and silver. They were all lined up on the main floor – the ‘12 apostles of music’.

The 100 windows comprised the largest collection of commercial art glass in Canada, not in a church.

Handel, Haydn, Beethoven and Bach were removed in the early 20th century to make room for emergency exits. Then Beethoven and Bach went AWOL in 1991. They turned up this year after an extensive search.

In July/2018 the Hall will close for two years after a week of concerts by GORDON LIGHTFOOT. The interior will be refurbished; stained glass windows re-installed; there’ll be a new building at the rear; expanded loading docks, two new performance spaces and a small museum.  The lower level bar, which features the photographic history of the building, will no doubt remain intact.

<RENDERING – the new Massey Hall, as it will look in September/2020>