Wanamaker Restoration / leaded glass restoration incomplete
We found Wanamaker Restoration in Vermont on line and Ronald Wanamaker was eager to take on our antique window restoration. My husband and I purchased an antique leaded stain glass window to be restored and hung in our new kitchen in our 1892 Queen Anne Victorian. We needed the glass to be cleaned because it was covered with a layer of what looked like shellac. The center rods to hold the window firm were detached and needed to be re- soldered on. The sash needed to be stripped of paint and reglazed. And we needed a window casing to be made with hinges to be put on the sash to make it into a working awning. We also discussed an indoor screen and an exterior storm window. Mr. Wanamaker had the window for over two months in his possession. At each inquiry he needed "more time" because it was unfinished. So much time had passed that our kitchen project was put back for another month. We had lost a total of three months time waiting for this window to be restored.
The window came back to us at a cost of $689.50 unfinished and without an itemized receipt of the work done on it. It was a huge disappointment. All of my emails and phone calls to Mr. Wanamaker regarding the restoration of this window did not produce a resolution. My last discussion with him was the first week in August 2009. I requested a partial refund since the window casing made for the antique window was not square or level and could not be placed in the new window jamb.
The problems of the restoration included: 1) The window casing made for the sash was not square and therefore not level-this was obvious when it was placed inside the window jamb. 2) The sash was not completely stripped of the old paint as requested. 3) There was no indoor screen nor storm window made.
4) The sill was not level and sanded smooth ready for paint. It looked "patched" together. 5) Inferior wood was used to make the casing which would not test the time of VT weather. 6) The window was received with large globs of putty that had dried on the sash. The window nearly rattled out of itself as our builders tried to place it into the window jamb and they advised us to have a new window casing made and to secure the glass somehow. It was extremely fragile and not at all secure in the sash. Mr. Wanamaker did not solder the metal rods back onto to the leaded glass. I believe his method involved some sort of glue that gave way immediately-please see pictures. Only soldering will hold a leaded glass window together.
The only aspect of this project that Mr. Wanamaker completed in satisfactory condition is that the glass was cleaned of the shellac.
What I am most concerned about is that Mr. Wanamaker represented himself as someone who had professional carpentry skills and whose specialty is restoring antique windows. Our experience has proved this to be untrue. When I expressed my concerns to Mr. Wanamaker about the quality of the restoration he did not seem to understand why I was complaining. He was cavalier and incredulous.
We had to hire an actual professional carpenter to make another casing for the antique window and this cost $900 and it was made out of Douglas fir. The glass was restored for $200 by a renowned professional stain glass artist who removed the glass from the sash. The glass joints were re-cemented and two new metal rods were soldered onto the exterior of the glass for strength. He also cleaned the glass and primed the sash after it had been stripped of paint by me. The joints had been re-glued by our carpenter who built the new casing.
Basically, almost all of Mr. Wanamaker's "restoration" had to be redone by others because what he did was of inferior quality. I believe that Mr. Wanamaker misrepresented his skill level to us in taking on this project when it should have been something that he passed on to someone with the proper skills, tools and techniques to restore this window. I am making this complaint so that others can avoid hiring workers of incompetence.
Communication is the key and so is hiring someone who comes highly recommended through word of mouth. We made a lot of rookie mistakes and hope that we won't relive this experience any time too soon.