April 9, 2021

A goal of renewing our century-old main campus building is preserving the historical character of Swartz Hall while increasing our energy efficiency and creating a welcoming, accessible, and modern environment.

One of the best examples of this goal, and one of the aspects of the Swartz Hall project I’ve been most excited about, is the revival of the building’s stained glass windows. This delicate and detailed job required partnering with someone with exceptional expertise in stained glass. That is why we partnered with Lyn Hovey Studio based in Dorchester, Massachusetts. Lyn Hovey is a master glass painter and master glazier with more than 55 years of experience. He and his team, including Marat Abramyan, a master glazier and master painter, and Jeffrey Cruse, a master glazier, woodworker, welder, and mason, worked for over a year to replicate the stained glass windows located throughout the building.

Lyn Hovey studio sign in stained glass

Their process involved using techniques that were exactly what was used to create the windows 100 years ago. The key, Hovey said, is to work the way the original artist worked and to try not to make something better or worse than what was there before.

One of the trickier techniques dates back to the fourteenth century and is called silver stain. This technique is how leaded glass artists develop a gold color that becomes part of the chemical structure of the glass.

Another challenging component of this project is replicating the medallions in the center of some of the windows. Some of the medallions are comprised of nearly 80 pieces of glass and include unique shapes. Hovey suspects that this was done by artists showing off their skills and ability, and possibly to compete with other stained glass artists.

The pictures below show the work on the windows at Hovey’s Dorchester studio. Some of the windows may look familiar. They are from the Braun Room, which includes eight windows emblazoned with shields from various institutions, including Harvard, the University of Cambridge, the University of Oxford, and even Yale University.

Replicating leaded glass windows from Swartz Hall at Lyn Hovey Studio

Cleaning old leaded glass windows from Swartz Hall at Lyn Hovey Studio

Preparing a new leaded glass windows from Swartz Hall at Lyn Hovey Studio

Drawing board of new leaded glass windows from Swartz Hall at Lyn Hovey Studio

A replicated leaded glass windows from Swartz Hall at Lyn Hovey Studio

Harvard shield in a replicated leaded glass window from Swartz Hall at Lyn Hovey Studio

In February, the replicated windows were finally reinstalled in the Braun Room and look fantastic. I’m eager for the fall semester when we can all safely return to campus to reconnect with each other and view, in person, the care and craftsmanship that has gone into renewing Swartz Hall.

Replicated leaded glass windows being installed in the Braun Room in 2021

Braun Room during renovation in April 2021

New windows installed in Braun Room in 2021

Site work. Interior finish work continues, including painting, door and hardware installation, carpeting, and tiling. Irrigation installation is ongoing. Elevator modernization work continues. Mechanical, electrical, and plumbing work also continues throughout the building, including the stack wing. Installation of veneer stone on the landscape wall is ongoing. The contractor will also be boarding and closing ceilings and installing millwork wall panels, and mullions that will support the façade glass. All activities are subject to change based on weather or other circumstances.

—Ralph