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Etched window replaced at Buffalo courthouse that was damaged in protests last summer

Etched window replaced at Buffalo courthouse that was damaged in protests last summer

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courthouse window

Detail of the etching, which features all 4,543 words of the U.S. Constitution, as workers from Sterling Glass and Frontier Glass carefully lift the replacement window into place on the glass entry pavilion at the Robert H. Jackson United States Courthouse, Monday, July 12, 2021. 

A 4-foot-by-8-foot glass window etched with words from the U.S. Constitution was installed Monday at the Robert H. Jackson U.S. Courthouse, replacing a panel damaged last year during protests against police brutality after the death of George Floyd.

Joe Geiger, property manager for the federal courthouse, said the glass was damaged during the last weekend in May 2020 when protests in Niagara Square turned violent.

"For a period of many hours, rocks and bricks were being thrown at the building, and damaged it," Geiger said about the panel.

"It's a double-pane glass, though. It's ballistic grade, so the interior pane was never damaged. It was just the decorative exterior pane with lettering on it that was damaged," Geiger added.

All 4,543 words of the U.S. Constitution are etched into the glass facade of the federal courthouse.

The damaged panel was one of a kind, which set off a yearlong journey to create a replacement. Geiger said the original installer and the original etcher were no longer in business, complicating matters.

"So the company that actually makes the glass, they're American and they're called Viracon, and they're based in Minnesota. But they do the glass. They don't make the special lettering. That was a small company that they had partnered with but, unfortunately, that company went out of business in the 10 years that the courthouse was built," Geiger said.

"So we had to find a new small company that could produce the lettering that would match the specs, so that it would match the remaining panes on the building and all look the same," Geiger added.

The team located the original CAD drawings for the windows in a bank box in Minneapolis, where the glass was originally manufactured. This allowed the window to be recreated and then installed by a team from two local companies, restoring the landmark building to its original state.

Geiger was unable to provide a final dollar value for the replacement.

Workers from Sterling Glass and Frontier Glass lifted the replacement pane and put it into place Monday.

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