Collector rescues windows from Chattanooga church (with video)

Collector rescues windows from Chattanooga church (with video)

August 15th, 2014 by Barry Courter in Life Entertainment

Greg Ross, bottom, and David Allison remove a panel from one of 14 faceted stained glass windows in the former Alleyne Memorial AME Zion Church, which is being converted into a residence in Chattanooga's Southside.

Photo by Dan Henry/Times Free Press.

David Allison helps remove panels from a stained-glass window at the former Alleyne Memorial AME Zion Church.

Photo by Dan Henry/Times Free Press.

Greg Ross didn't hesitate when he got a call from the owner of a dumpster company who told him workers were throwing away glass mosaic windows from a downtown church.

"I told him, 'Don't touch anything. I will be right there.'"

Ross owns Estate of Confusion, "The Original Kewl Art Stuff Store," on Main Street. He's spent his career collecting old stuff people no longer want or need.

After negotiating with the new owner of the Alleyne Memorial AME Zion Church on Williams Street, who plans to convert it to a private home, a deal was struck: Ross could have the windows, but he'd have to remove them.

Work began in early July, and Ross says it is taking about a day and half to remove each window. Twelve of the 14 windows are being taken out, while the front two will be left intact.

Ross says he has no immediate plans for the windows, but hopes to sell them as a collection.

The windows originally were installed in 1995, the faceted stained-glass mosaics constructed by Statesville Stained Glass out of North Carolina. They depict Christ at various key moments of his life.

According to Rev. Cedric Henson, pastor of Alleyne when the windows were put in, he supplied the company with the images he wanted. The windows were built by breaking or finding one-inch thick pieces of glass, placing them a mold, then pouring in an epoxy resin. Each completed window has six panels that complete the scene. Some of the glass pieces were purposely chipped, or faceted, giving them more depth when sunlight hits them.

The church got all the windows for the bargain price of $1,500 each, says Henson, who left Alleyne in 1998.

"The man told me, 'Listen, if anybody asks where you got them, tell them. Tell them about the faceted glass, but do not tell them what this glass cost, because they will not get them for that. And, if you were to get new ones, you would not get this price,'" Henson says with a chuckle.

The windows "were a blessing for me and the congregation," Henson says, explaining that they inspired many a sermon and his favorite, a depiction of Jesus with a sheep, inspired the naming of a new church - Shepherd's Voice - he helped open after leaving Alleyne. He's not sure when the Alleyne was abandoned.

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfree or 423-757-6354.