A massive stained-glass window at a downtown Barrie church couldn't be saved as planned during the building's demolition.
Victoria Village CEO Bill Krever confirmed to BarrieToday that the large stained-glass feature facing Ross Street shattered during attempts to remove it this week.
"They did have a problem. They tried to take the stained glass off... but it was just too warped when they took it out of the frame," Krever said Friday morning. "It just smashed to pieces."
The incident happened around lunchtime on Thursday, according to reader Meghan Miller.
Miller told BarrieToday she was at nearby Queen's Park, across the street from the church which was built in 1957, with her kids for a picnic lunch when the incident happened.
"The sound of shattering glass as the frame hit the ground will play over and over in my mind," said Miller, who attended the church for close to 30 years and was married there. "It was heartbreaking to watch, while my children, who were baptized in that very building, played behind me."
In a story published earlier this week, BarrieToday reported that officials with Victoria Village, which purchased the church property in 2015, were hoping to save the large window for possible use in future developments at the site.
But Krever said once workers removed the frame from the stained glass, "it just fell apart."
It was disheartening to see that happen, he said.
There were indications early on, however, that it would be tricky to save the religious artwork.
"We had a couple of experts come in back in the winter, when we were starting demolition, and they wouldn't even go near it, in terms of trying to remove it," Krever said. "They knew it was going to be an issue. We'd hoped that it would come out and we could save it."
Miller said she initially had a level of comfort with the razing of the church, knowing that some of its artifacts, such as the stained glass, were being rescued.
"Yes, it was just a window, but it represented so much more than a pretty arrangement of coloured glass," she said.
Demolition crews were still able to save some bricks from the old building, as well as numerous pews, Krever added.
"There are some memories out there, but the stained glass didn't make it," he said. "But, like I said, the glass was just too warped and there was nothing they could do. All attempts were made to save it, but it just wasn't possible."