Located in Hillside, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, the Oakridge Abbey is a community mausoleum containing a series of stained glass windows by Edgar Miller. An accomplished artist, designer, and craftsman, Edgar Miller was a member of the Old Town Artists Colony and prominent contributor to Modern design in Chicago throughout the 20th century. Miller began producing stained glass in the 1920s. His 1927 windows in Oakridge Abbey are a result of one of his largest commissions in the medium. Miller continued to contribute windows to the building through the early 1930s, making the collection a visible timeline of his growing skills and mastery of the craft. Additionally, several of the earliest panels installed in the abbey are known to be assembled by Temple Art Glass. Located on West Schiller Street, Chicago, the Temple Art Glass company was utilized by several prairie school architects during the 20th century and was the studio Miller employed to execute many of his windows for the Old Town studios.
The data collected during the condition survey were used to develop individual condition reports for each window as well as annotated images indicating found conditions. Based on the severity of the conditions found, a treatment proposal was developed to address issues and mitigate future damage. While the focus of this report is on the condition of the Edgar Miller stained glass windows at Oakridge Abbey, the on-site investigation and reported conditions include an assessment of the building. Since the state of the building is intrinsically linked to the long-term preservation of the windows, it is imperative that any stained glass treatment plan also consider the condition of the surrounding structure. In order to ensure both the immediate and long-term preservation of the Edgar Miller windows at the Oakridge Abbey, additional research was compiled on the potential funding resources and pathways for improved historic recognition. This information was gathered in consultation with staff at the Illinois State Historic Preservation Office and Landmarks Illinois.
Issues identified as high priority center around poor moisture control and moisture induced deterioration of the building structure, a lack of informed maintenance, and the use of improper protective glazing. All of these conditions have contributed to the deterioration of Miller’s stained glass windows, several of which will need to be removed and disassembled in order to address built-up grime, breaks, loss, failing lead, and poor previous repairs. Examination of the exterior shows dark stains extending down from the roof line and deteriorating roof materials indicative of an ongoing water problem. Failing drainage has resulted in the cyclical flow of water over the face of window and door openings, resulting in accelerated damage to decorative grids and frames. On the exterior, overgrown vegetation has begun to intrude into openings in the building envelope. On the interior, there is a general layer of grime across most windows and sills, as well as the use of temporary repairs left as long-term solutions creating further issues with leaks, breaks, and a loss of original material. The choice of material and state of the protective glazing elements present on many of the decorative windows is also contributing to the deterioration of the Miller’s stained glass. The use of improper material and installation technique for protective glazing can lead to further problems in the future due to poor ventilation, degrading materials, and the capture of grime and moisture.
The final report includes individual treatment recommendations for every window by Miller as the issues faced by each are unique. In order to prevent further damage to the stained glass windows, recommendations regarding the overall preservation of the building are also included within the report. Primarily, it is recommended that a more proactive approach towards structural repairs and general maintenance be adopted by the stewards of this property. This should include both further analysis and treatment of the roof and drainage systems, as well as an improved maintenance plan that addresses proper stained glass window care.
 Larry Zgoda, “Edgar Miller’s Unique Modernist Style Revealed,” Stained Glass Quarterly 82 (1987): 312.
 P. Robyn and S. Godfraind, ed., Practical Building Conservation, (Farnham: Ashgate, 2011), 50.