To view this page ensure that Adobe Flash Player version 11.1.0 or greater is installed.
Attenhofer's Stained Glass Studio: Artisans Dedicated to Restoring New Orleans’ Stained Glass Treasures BY James Sebastien | PHOTOS BY Liz Jurey THE GRAND CHURCHES of the New Orleans region — some of which could rival the cathedrals of Europe — are part of what makes the area unique. And if you have admired stained glass art in any of these houses of worship, chances are you have seen the work of Attenhofer's Stained Glass Studio. Attenhofer's Stained Glass Studio, located in Metairie, comprised of own- er Cynthia Courage and a small staff of dedicated artisans, has faithfully brought back to life windows at churches such as St. Louis Cathedral, Saint Maurice Catholic Church, Historic Saint James AME Church, First Unitar- ian Universalist Church of New Orleans, and Pro Multis Chapel in Lacombe, Louisiana, to name but a few. They don’t only restore, however: the studio also creates new stained glass win- dows. Attenhofer’s has been fabricating and preserving stained glass windows for well over 40 years, a one-stop shop for custom design and installation needs. Sometimes their work involves replacement or repair of stained glass win- dows damaged by the elements. Sometimes, though, their expertise is needed to repair windows damaged by more sinister culprits. Their recent work at famed St. Louis Cathedral in the French Quarter’s Jackson Square is but one example: "The church was vandalized at about 6 a.m. after a protest at Jack- son Square about the possible removal of the Andrew Jackson statue,” Courage said. “Two men hopped the fence, and started beating the glass.” Unfortunately, it seems that these acts of vandalism are on the rise. “In last year, I have repaired vandalized windows at St. John the Baptist, where someone threw bricks through the painted glass; St. Louis Cathedral; First Unitarian Universalist Church, and the Salvation Army," she said. However, Courage and the talented artists at Attenhoffer’s are up to any challenge. The full-service art glass studio, whose mantra is, “Let us change the way you see the Light!”, is widely considered to be a preeminent source for recapturing old New Orleans charm. ••• ARTISAN KEN ATTENHOFER founded the stained glass studio that bears his name in the early 1970s. Over a decade later, in 1987, a stained glass aficionado named Cynthia Courage visited the studio hoping to enliven her house. “I fell in love with stained glass and was fortunate to find a small stu- dio located very close to my home,” she said. “I knew I wanted to add beauty to my house, and I loved the idea of putting stained glass into my home to bring in light and color.” When first visiting Attenhofer’s, Courage was convinced by Ken to take a class in stained glasswork. Despite her initial reluctance, as a mother with young kids and little free time, she immediately took to the craft. “I managed to complete most of my projects within the first two weeks or so, and that's when Ken approached me and asked me to work for him,” Courage said. Her college bachelor’s degree was in business and marketing, but the art of stained glass called to her. “I was already employed, but he was persistent. I had a solid art background, and my passion truly was in art/design. “Ken was also very flexible with my hours, because my children were quite young,” she continued. “He made an offer I could not refuse. I started working with him immediately and my first job was a restoration at Saint Alphonsus, which was a closed church at that point in time. We were invited in to do some stained glass repairs; I was truly mesmerized with their stained glass windows.” Just like that, Courage was forever hooked. Over the next 15 years, she worked closely with Attenhofer. “I worked on dozens and dozens of historical churches at all kinds of elevations while working with Ken,” she said. “I took advantage of every opportunity I had to learn more about historical glass and conservation of glass, and looked forward to the next challenge. “Working with Ken was always an adventure. I always knew that somehow, together, we would figure out the next challenge. Ken was very good with his technical ability, which caused him to almost never say ‘no.’ He always encouraged me and would nurture my artistic ability by constantly stating how wonderful or how beautiful a project turned out.” After the pair had been working together for over a decade, Attenhofer began to reevaluate his ownership of the company. He believed that the time had come for him to move on from the Crescent City and Attenhofer’s Stained Glass Studio, Courage said. “We had to figure out a way to negotiate a sale of the studio,” she said. “I took over running the studio in Ken’s absence in 2000, and by January of 2002 I had become the owner.” After taking over as owner of Attenhoffer’s, Courage swiftly worked to ac- quire her contractor’s license, with a specialty in Artwork and Stained Glass Installation, Restoration and Renovation. Additionally, she gained professional memberships with the American Glass Guild (and served on their Board of Directors from 2016-2017), the Stained Glass Association of America and the American Institute of Conservation. Her experience and continued desire to hone her craft has made Atten- hofer’s the go-to place for people in need of stained glass restoration. Her cov- eted repertoire includes numerous styles of stained glasswork from German, French, Flemish, Old English, Spanish and American provenance. ••• COURAGE’S YEARS WORKING with Attenhoffer to master her stained glass ability, and later as owner, solidifying how to run an in-demand busi- ness, were, in a sense, coursework leading to her ultimate test. Reviving the churches devastated by Hurricane Katrina was more than a test of talent — it was a test of will. The shattered glass that littered the sidewalks (along with other debris) in the harrowing days that followed Aug. 29, 2005, helped paint a picture of the region so devastating that it could cast a shadow over any eternal optimist. In these glass-half-empty days, it was up to people like Cynthia Courage to pick up the pieces — literally. One of the first churches that Courage and her Attenhofer team were able to work on was Saint Teresa of Avila, the landmark Catholic church in the Lower TOP LEFT: Designer Anastasia McGee reviews sketches for a commissioned project inspired by Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven. TOP RIGHT: Detailed cross-stitching on a piece of an antique French window Attenhofer Studio is currently restoring. MIDDLE LEFT: Portions of a French window that was previously displayed in a private residence. MIDDLE RIGHT: Brian Kneziak and Elise Thomas carefully handling segments of an antique French window. BOTTOM: Stained glass artisans Brian Kneziak, Elise Thomas, owner Cynthia Courage, and Anastasia McGee pose in front PHOTOS BY LIZ JUREY & KAT BRYANT of the studio. OCTOBER 2017 www.prcno.org • PRESERVATION IN PRINT 29