Looking through Montgomery’s history

Alvin Nasinec stands by three of the original stained-glass windows from the first Holy Redeemer Church that had been built in 1881, making the windows 132 years old. (Wade Young Photo)

Sometimes history is in your backyard, only you may not realize it, or think it’s important. 
 
That is the case of more than a dozen 132-year-old stained-glass windows that have been recently brought to the public’s attention.
 
The windows are from the original first church of Holy Redeemer Parish, built in 1881. The emergence of these timeless, century-old treasures surfaced by happenstance. 
 
Dale Ruhland of Ruhland Electric explains that he had been on a service call to Alvin Nasinec’s home recently when they started talking about how old barns are disappearing from the landscapes. 
 
Alvin then offered to show Dale his grandparents’ barn, which was built in 1925. As the two walked through the structure, the story of its creation shed the light on timeless treasures stored in the building. 
 
“As we walked through the barn, Alvin told me that much of the framing material came from the old 1881 Catholic church in Montgomery that stood in front of our current parish house,” Dale said. 
 
Alvin explained that his grandfather, John M. Nasinec, had disassembled the church when the current  was built. In those days, people were required to bid on dismantling it to salvage the lumber. Alvin’s grandfather won the bid with $750.
 
Alvin said he knew the value of the precious wood that was used in the holy structure. It was built with white pine lumber, which held high interest because it is easier to take apart.
 
“The nails pulled easier,” Dale said. “White Pine is a lighter material than oak or ash that was typically used during the period.” 
 
During the discussion, Dale asked Alvin if his grandfather had gotten everything from the church. He responded that he had.
 
Then, the next question unlocked a treasure of Montgomery history.
 
“I asked him what about the church windows,” Dale said. “This was amazing. He turned and nodded toward an old shed and told me that is where they are all stored. It was his grandfather’s little work shop, and there on the second floor, the windows lay exactly where his grandfather put them almost 90 years ago.” 
 
Collecting dust and dirt for almost a century, were 12 to 15 beautifully preserved, wooden, stained-glass windows, including a rose window (or Catherine window) that was featured in the front of the church.
 
Alvin said last week he had been aware the treasures were there, but never gave them a second thought.
 
“As long I know, they were always there. They’ve never been touched until we (Dale and I) looked at them,” he said. “I never realized what I’ve got. I never thought much of it. When I was young, I guess I should have asked my dad or grandfather.”
 
In all, the complete set of windows from the church are there, except one that Alvin’s grandfather had used in the barn.
 
“I guess it is a really holy barn,” Alvin chuckled.
 
Bill Hlavac cleaned up the windows, and Chad Washa, chair of the Holy Redeemer Church Festival, found a spot to display the them during the festival. 
 
Dale also thanked historian Blanche Zellmer for her remarkable ability to come though with documents from Montgomery’s early history.
 
Destiny predicted that Alvin would be in possession of the historic windows. His parents, Geroge J. and Bessie Nasinec, emigrated from Czechoslovakia in 1881, the same year the church was built.
 
Alvin also remembers something else from the remains of the church.
 
“My sister and I would use the organ pipes as whistles,” he said. “You needed a lot of air to get those to work!”
 
 
Windows on display
The windows from the first Holy Redeemer Church, built in 1881, will be on display during the Holy Redeemer Festival, outside the east entrance to the church.