Windows For The Soul
Waioli Hui’ia Church

Hurricane Iniki

Waioli Hui’ia Church sits at the old Mission founded in 1834 on Kauai, in the heart of Hanalei. On September 11, 1992 at 1 a.m., hurricane Iniki swept across Kauai with sustained winds of one hundred sixty miles per hour and wind gusts recorded at two hundred and twenty miles per hour. Hurricane Iniki was a big one by any standards. The Waioli Hui’ia Church was literally lifted off if its foundation, causing extensive damage to the building’s structure and smashing the Church’s precious stained glass heritage. The proud church had been designated a National Historic Landmark but it is much more than a landmark to the regional community of Hanalei and to all citizens of Hawaii.

The Queen of Kauai, Deborah Kapule was an early Christian convert and helped establish the Mission in the 1830’s on land provided by Governor Kaikioewa of Kauai. The historic Mission House was built in 1837 and the adjoining Mission Hall was finished in 1843, resplendent with its tower belfry and requisite mission bell. The current church building was constructed on this site in 1912 and the original Mission House and Mission Hall were fully restored that same year. The church has enjoyed an uninterrupted succession of services since 1834, first as a Congregational Church and since 1957 as a United Church of Christ.

In the aftermath of hurricane Iniki the restoration committee appointed Alfonso J. Garza, of Designare Architects in Honolulu, as the restoration architect and Callahan Construction of Hanalei, Hawaii, was awarded the general contract. They conducted a national search for a qualified stained glass studio to restore the heavily damaged windows and recreate the destroyed stained glass. Their search eventually brought them to our studio and after many discussions and consultations we were awarded the contract. It struck me that the geographic contrasts could not be greater. Bovard Studio, surrounded by the cornfields and big blue sky of Iowa, and the Waioli Hui’ia Church sitting at the base of a volcano on one of the most beautiful islands in the world. We were two disparate partners with one noble and unified objective.

In November of 1993 our restoration team arrived at the Waioli Hui’ia Church, to extract the windows. The process begins by first assessing the damage and then photographically recording the current condition of windows, it is important to have accurate site records that often prove invaluable during the restoration. The windows were carefully removed and all previously recovered bits and pieces were located before everything was crated for shipment to our studio back in Iowa.

Four sets of double lancet stained glass windows had to be recreated. Matching historic opalescent stained glass is exponentially more difficult than matching paint color or dye lots. In glass, we not only have to match a unique combination of color mix, but we must match the density and the unique refractory qualities of the light as it passes through the glass.

We put out a call to our trusted suppliers and opalescent glass manufacturers to search their hoard of old glass for suitable matches. To our delight, they successfully located a match for all the replacement glass we needed, except one. The main background glass for all of the Waioli Hui’ia Church’s stained glass windows was a green, amber and white opalescent that was not currently available. We looked at dozens of color samples from current production glass and decided to ask Youghiogheny Opalescent Glass Company to recreate a glass to match the original. Their skilled colorists were able to achieve a nearly perfect match. However since the density, color and consistency of opalescent glass actually changes during the course of batch production, it was the glass three-fourths of the way through the batch that was selected as the best match.

The restored windows were shipped 4,000 miles back to Kauai and meticulously reinstalled into the rebuilt Waioli Hui’ai Church in time for the Church’s dedication ceremonies in April of 1994. We were thrilled with the results as was the restoration architect and the church’s congregation. We have been told that even the most discerning visitor is amazed to learn the stained glass windows have undergone extensive restoration.

Waioli Hui’ia Church has been designated a National Historic Landmark. It is located in Hanalei, Kaua’i, Hawaii.
Figurative, abstract, traditional, minimal, modern, ornate, bright contrasting colors, or with subtle shades. Whether housed in a great cathedral or a humble country church, stained glass at its best should reflect the soul of the congregation, the spirit of God manifest on Earth. - R. B.

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