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Stained-glass ‘puzzle’ is piece of Fayette County history

Pittsburgh Tribune ReviewBy Chris Foreman
Friday, June 1, 2007

Terry Bengel hasn’t had an easy task restoring the long-hidden stained glass that once graced the rotunda ceiling in the 115-year-old Fayette County Courthouse.
For the past five weeks, the Greensburg artist has been refurbishing the soot-blemished panels that were in storage for at least decades, if not nearly the past century.

Compounding matters, nobody in county government has any photos depicting how the glass, which has a pale amber ripple background, used to look.

But Bengel said he is confident he’ll have all 20 glass panels ready for installation by Andaloro Construction before a June 15 deadline.

“It was a bit of a mystery, and it turned into a puzzle that had to be put together,” Bengel said Thursday.
Fayette County President Judge Conrad B. Capuzzi has spurred the glass restoration, which he says will create a near-mirror image of the stained-glass dome outside his second-floor courtroom.

In March, county commissioners hired Andaloro, of Hopwood, to complete the reinstallation for $124,200, although only $2,200 in matching money from the county’s general fund has been pledged.

The remaining $122,000 is split between a grant from the National Road Heritage Corridor and defendant fees paid into a county magisterial court fund.

Once mounted, the stained-glass panels will replace plain beige plaster slabs that have hung in their place in the 17.5-foot-by-22-foot ceiling.

“They all required some work,” Bengel said. “Three of the panels were total reconstructions. They were totally lost.”

Bengel is getting down to the final work in his George Street studio, mixing and grinding ceramic colors into the panels reproduced by Connellsville-based Youghiogheny Opalescent Glass.

“It’s an important piece of historic preservation,” he said.

Chris Foreman can be reached at or 724-626-3561.

Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

100 West Station Square Drive, Suite 450

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Phone: 412-471-5808  |  Fax: 412-471-1633