Chateau Frontenac Lobby windows being reincarnated

Chateau Frontenac Lobby windows being reincarnated

Chateau_Frontenac_Quebec
Now that it has a new roof, it’s the lobby of the famous Château Frontenac that is being completely refurbished from head to toe but, the owners want the new installations to be exactly like they were originally, or at least look that way; a situation which creates a real challenge for the contractor and his personnel.

Most of the new renovations will be easily redone and any newness won’t necessarily show as all the nails and hardware are ready available and are not exposed on the surface. There is one challenge however that created some serious concerns regarding authenticity.

It was decided that the windows be taken down, taken apart, and then reinstalled with new material. The 10 windows in question, with some containing stained glass, are approximately 100 years old and are made up of hundreds of panes set into wooden frames with each pane being held in place with what was known at the time as “putty”. Today, panes are held in place by a silicon caulking material which has no resemblance to the old method, which is where the problem or “challenge” came into play.

Great steps were taken to find a product that resembled putty but without the two week drying period normally required for the old method. After many phone calls and inquiries a compound was finally found, in of all places, Pennsylvania, that looked and felt like putty but could dry in 1 hour, saving the reinstallation process a huge amount of time. The distributer in Pennsylvania went all the way to Connecticut to get what he needed and then delivered the merchandise himself to Quebec City.

The next step was to find someone who could apply the product so it would look original since this type of artisanal work is no longer taught in schools. The contractor found a M. Jacques Tremblay from Magicolor who worked on windows in his own shop and was willing to take on the experiment. It took 20 days at 27 min per pane to complete the work, including the cleaning and refurbishing of the original hardware.

Some of us would probably never notice the difference, and when the windows are reinstalled we certainly won’t, because they’ll look exactly like they’ve looked for the past 100 years, thanks to a joint effort from antique enthusiasts and artisans from around North America.
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LifeinQuebec.com Staff Writer
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