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Huntington's oldest black church restores historic stained glass windows

The $47,675 effort to restore eight windows in the church's nave took two years and was completed in December.

The interior of Bethel A.M.E. Church in Huntington

The interior of Bethel A.M.E. Church in Huntington is pictured Monday. The church recently completed its stained glass window restoration. Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

 Sunlight filters into the sanctuary of Huntington’s oldest African-American church more brightly, thanks to the newly completed restoration of the room’s stained glass windows.

The $47,675 program to restore eight windows in the church’s nave took two years and was completed in December.

The double-hung, rounded windows at Bethel A.M.E. church on Park Avenue were installed when the structure was built in 1924. Over the years the windows had deteriorated and by 2016 were in very bad condition or, at best, in moderate condition, said Joel Snodgrass of Huntington-based Steward Preservation Services LLP, an architectural conservator who was the contractor overseeing the restoration.

“It’s a great accomplishment — something we have talked about doing for years — so it’s exciting to see that we got it done," said Rev. Larry D. Jennings Sr., the church’s leader for 11 years.

To cover the cost of the restoration, Huntington Town Historian Robert Hughes secured grants from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation for $20,000; the Sacred Sites program of the New York Landmarks Conservancy for $10,000; and The Gerry Charitable Trust for $5,000.  The rest of the cost was covered by donations from church members.

Here are some of the windows and details about them:

Rev. Larry D. Jennings Sr. sits in front of the window sponsored by Charles Ballton, the son of Samuel Ballton, an entrepreneur in Greenlawn who became known as the "Pickle King" after selling 1.5 million pickles in one season.

Jennings stands in front of one of the windows that all feature the same geometric pattern in an assortment of colors including green, amber and white.

The windows were sponsored by prominent members of the church at the time of its construction. Edna Point, identified in this window, was a member in the 1930s who was pivotal in the church’s growth, Jennings said.

The restoration of the windows was a personal effort for some current church members whose relatives' names appear on a panel within the window. 

The windows were repaired two at a time, with the entire window  — glass and frame — disassembled, the wood and glass stabilized, repaired and cleaned. Studio Restorations of East Marion was the glass specialist, and Glen Cove-based Traditional Window Restoration Inc. restored the wood.

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