Historic SHSU Stained-glass Window Rises From The Ashes

Your Houston News (Nov. 5) reports on the impressive recreation of one of the many stained-glass windows that were at home in Old Main. That building, and it's numerous stained-glass windows, were destroyed in the infamous 1982 fire.
In the early hours of the morning on Feb. 12, 1982, smoke billowed out of the Old Main building at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville. The nearly century-old academic hall — which looked something like a many-steepled Gothic cathedral — succumbed to the flames. The cause is still a mystery.

The fire that brought the building to its knees also claimed academic records, musical instruments, broadcasting equipment and a collection of stained-glass windows. One of those windows, the Sam Houston Memorial Window, which stood 17 feet high by seven feet wide, had served to honor Sam Houston and the heroes of Texas.

An accounting student at the university, Joe Janczak couldn’t stand to see that beautiful window commemorating Texas history remain shattered in the ashes of the destroyed building. In the weeks and years after the fire, Janczak excavated the ruins, collecting shards of the stained glass around the remains and in the azalea beds.

...Janczak, who had no prior experience making stained-glass windows, set to the task of recreating the massive work of art. He ordered the stained glass through glass companies, a couple of them the same companies that provided the glass for the original window in 1889. The colored glass came in large sheets which he cut into precise pieces following a diagram for the window.

Janczak’s original intention for the window was to donate it to the university so it could return to the home of the original window, but — because of its size — the only building that it would fit in on campus was the new cafeteria.

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