After a several-year absence, stained glass artisan Gerhard Finger is noting his return to Jim Thorpe by completing two works at the Gilded Cupid Bed & Breakfast on West Broadway.
Finger is completing stained glass transom windows for Bob Ewashko, who along with Sheila O'Neil, are co-owners of the Gilded Cupid.
Finger has designed and installed 10 stained glass windows, in both the original 1850s section and in the 1903 addition. The Gilded Cupid currently has three guest rooms. Two additional guest rooms are planned.
In the 1980s, a small fire cracked the clear glass transom window above the doors to two second-floor guest rooms. Before the days of air conditioning, small windows were installed above hotel room doors to allow for ventilation while allowing the door to remain closed for privacy and security.
In keeping with the Victorian theme of the Gilded Cupid, Ewashko wanted to upgrade the windows with stained glass. He wanted a design that would capture the existing themes in the building, and look as if they dated to the Victorian period.
For this project, Ewashko turned to Finger, who had owned the First Class Stained Glass shop, which was only a few doors up the street. Ewashko had used him on several previous projects three projects 10 years ago, and six projects two years ago.
"It's great to see how Gerhard works," Ewashko said about previous projects where Finger took an existing design and expanded it into a larger format. "You can't tell the difference where the old part ends and the new part begins. It's on the same window but you can't tell."
Finger was born in Bremen, Germany and when he was 5 years old, through an arrangement with family friends, his family came to the U.S. After landing in New York, the family moved to the Philadelphia area, eventually settling in New Jersey.
The friends, who had arranged for his family's passage, soon followed them to the U.S. from Germany. The two families reconnected.
The friends started a stained glass restoration business, Artifex Studio. When they needed additional help, first Finger's older brother was hired; then Gerhard, who at the time was working as a pony boy at the Philadelphia Zoo, was hired.
Finger's training was soon interrupted. This was in the late 1960s, in the wake of the Vietnam War, and he was drafted into the Army. After the service, he returned as a journeyman, restoring stained glass windows, re-leading, and repairing storm windows from Maine to Florida.
After starting a family, Finger moved to Jim Thorpe and started the First Class Stained Glass business, a business he operated for 15 years.
Now he's returned. His first project is the two 30-inch wide by 12-inch tall transom windows at the Gilded Cupid. His design focuses on a red-hearted shield on a teal field. His design incorporates a marbleized opalescent glass. Finger likes the glass to serve two functions, "to provide beauty in viewing the glass directly, and to let the light passing through the glass illuminate the wall to create a secondary effect," he said.
"The enjoyment is working with the creative aspect of the designs and the colors which are limitless," he said. "I enjoy working with the clientele just to see someone happy. If they are happy, I'm happy."
Asked why he returned to Jim Thorpe, Finger replied, "I love it here. I love the area. It is beautiful. When you live somewhere for so many years, it becomes a part of you, and you become a part of it."
Finger is now offering stain glass design and restoration on a freelance basis and can be reached at (484) 629-4648.