A while back I had the pleasure of exploring the 1876 cream city brick house at 1363 N. Prospect Ave. Designed by architect James Douglas, for grain broker Gilbert Collins, the house has since been converted to office space, but it retains many of of fabulous details.
You can read all about it in this urban spelunking article.
The other day, Cobalt Glassworks' Jon Schroder sent me some photos of newly restored vintage windows from Collins House.
The leaded glass windows have a beautiful arts and craftsy floral motif. The maker, Schroder says, is unknown. Nor is it clear if they are original to the house or if they were added later.
"These windows have such a unique design, " he says. "They are unlike the signature styles of past artists that I am familiar with.
"We have been pulling a few out at a time, starting last summer," he says. "We have completely restored four so far. From start to finish, each window takes two to three weeks to complete."
Schroder says the work has been challenging because there have been numerous condition challenges that have blossomed over the course of nearly 140 years.
"All of the windows have had badly broken pieces that needed to be replaced, which is difficult to do with glass that old, but we have a collection of antique glass, as well as new glass made to look like older style glass.
"They are also bowing because of their weight and age, and need to be flattened carefully and have reinforcement bars added to prevent this from happening in the future."
He also described the restoration process for me:
"Once they are flat, and the broken pieces have been replaced, we re-putty the window, since a lot of the original putty that holds the glass in has cracked and fallen out. Lastly, we pull off the old lead frames, and solder on bigger, less flexible zinc frames. The original sashes then get routed out to accommodate the bigger frames."
Schroder says that in addition to its restoration work, Cobalt has been creating new windows, too.
"The big project we've been working on for a while is a set of around 30 new, custom windows and panels for a home on Terrace that has been restored over the last few years, and has had an addition put on. Cobalt has been designing and fabricating new windows, and door and cabinet panels throughout the home."
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.