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Stained glass Trout Gym windows to be preserved

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By Cathy Stuehmeier —

And so it began! On Monday, December 11, Emil Frei Stained Glass Studio of St. Louis arrived and the tedious work of removing the stained glass windows began with Nicholas Frei and Buddy Pondrom in the boom.

Being an alumni of Centralia Township High School Class of 1965, I can’t tell you how happy I am to see the iconic stained glass windows from Trout Gym (currently City Hope Church campus) being removed for restoration and reinstalled in the Centralia High School Trout Arena located on East Calumet Street.

It’s a complicated project. Being a student of the arts for as long as I can remember, and as a stained glass artist for close to 40 years in my spare time, I can assure you it will be no easy task, but it will be well worth the effort.

Legendary Coach and Teacher Arthur Trout’s philosophy was featured in the stained glass project, and in addition to the basketball players in the center window, the other windows depict classes and fields of study, and include in Latin, “A sound mind is a sound body. Prepared in all things.” The windows have been enjoyed by generation after generation of students, educators and citizens of Centralia and many visitors to the community!

Amazingly, the St. Louis stained glass company Emil Frei & Associates, who originally designed, made and installed the windows in 1937, are still in business and will also be doing the restoration project.

The CTHS Class of 1961 and others have been spearheading the moving project, and Class of 1961 member Jan Monken, upon hearing that Emil Frei Inc. was still in business, contacted them immediately.

Vice President, Project Manager Nicholas Frei (great-great grandson of Emil Frei) and Artist, Craftsman Buddy Pondrom on the balcony inside Trout Gym. Buddy has been with the company for 14 years.

Aaron Frei, the great-great-grandson of Emil Frei, came to Centralia to see the windows and noted the damage involving at least 30 areas. Aaron made it clear that Frei Stained Glass was happy to be involved in the restoration of the windows, stating, “We’ll approach it as a family heirloom to protect and preserve for future generations.” He also feels. “Because of its unique piece, we have all the more reason to wish its future livelihood.” The plans are to remove the three large sections and take them to the business, where they will repair and clean them, then bring them to install in Trout Arena.

The work continued successfully until all panels were removed (panel by panel).

According to the 1936 cornerstone on Trout Gym, the building and stained glass windows were Project No. 1205 R5 of the Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works. The cornerstone also cites R.E. Rixmann as Architect. Rixmann grew up in the Irvington area and became a St. Louis architect. The name “Rixman” also appears in the stained glass.

A campaign to raise money for this worthwhile project has been set up. The CHS Alumni Organization will accept the donations. They are a 501C status group, so donations will be tax-deductible. Centralia High School’s address is 2100 East Calumet, Centralia IL 62801. Checks should be made out to the CHS Alumni Association. Note on the check that the contribution is for the stained glass window project. Also, donations from the donor can be made in memory or honor of any person or business they choose.

Pictured above are the windows as they looked in Trout Gym before the restoration project began.

 



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