When Dr. Richard C. King told the museum board that he would set aside $25,000 of his money for replacement of the windows in the Chapel on the Bosque, with colorful stained glass, members were excited about the project.
After a careful consideration of artists skilled in glass was reviewed, Bonnie Welch of the “Glass Garden” was selected to do the work.
Welch has a studio near her home in the cedar and live oak hills near Bluff Dale, where she performs miracles of beauty in several mediums including concrete, metal, wood and glass. She has become skilled in her profession through 27 years of largely self-teaching. She and husband, Rick, a Ferrier, were living in Beaumont with their son and daughter, when they decided that there might be a climate better suited to their lifestyle and began to look for land elsewhere. They made the move to Erath County and have lived in their present home for 11 years.
“This place suits us exactly.” Welch said. “We just love this area, the people, the climate, everything. We definitely made the right move when we settled here.”
When she began work on the windows in the Chapel on the Bosque, a popular place for weddings on the museum grounds, the artist thought she would be finished in three months but the project actually took five.
This was due in part to the winter weather.
Dr. King requested that the windows match the original glass as much as possible but without any really good pictures, this was difficult. Some observers thought that the windows in the building were original but Welch determined that not to be the case as the glass had a heavy stamped pattern that was not used before 1940, so at some time after that, the windows in the Chapel had been done over. Never-the-less, she set out to finish the glass as near as possible to what was thought to be the original. “The board wanted to make the colors a little darker in order to keep out the hottest rays from the sun because those rays were just baking the beautiful curved wooden pews.” Welch said.
The result is decorative windows that are breath-taking in their beauty and most agree that they add an overall feeling of great peace to the auditorium. Visitors have been thrilled with the results, according to reports from the museum staff. “There have been four weddings here since the new windows were completed,” Linda McElroy, office manager said. “Everyone has commented on their beauty.”
At the request of Dr. King, who has a great love for roses, especially red ones, Welch has included roses in the highest windows and their great beauty can be observed when standing outside the front of the building. “I spent some time on a 30 foot extension ladder getting those windows done,” the artist laughed. “That was kind of scary but I got Dr. King his rose windows.”