Book chronicles mystery of stolen stained glass window from Youngstown mansion

Local News

The book details the theft of a large stained glass window from the Renner mansion

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – On the back of one of the most elegant homes in the Wick Park neighborhood was a big stained glass window that was stolen 35 years ago. Now, a woman has written a book about the heist and hopes to someday bring the valuable antique back to Youngstown.

As Dorothy Butler walks through the entrance of Youngstown’s Renner Mansion, built in 1907 by the owner of the old Renner Brewing Company, she heads for a large window out back where there was once a most valuable piece of stained glass.

“It took the day. And yes, they took it piece by piece,” Butler said, speaking of the stolen window.

Butler has written a book about the house, the stained glass, and the heist titled Flight of the Soul: The disappearance of a priceless work of art.

“Really, the story is about looting and the consequences of looting and the consequences looting has on a community,” Butler said.

George Renner bought the stained glass window at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. It has a religious theme with two angels in the middle.

In the winter of 1984, Butler says the three panels, which measured 9 by 12 feet, were taken from the house. The thieves knew what they were doing.

“They took it down the stairs, and there were people in the foyer with a stack of blankets because transporting stained glass is a very complicated thing,” she said. “They had a van and they just carried it straight out the door and put it right in the truck,” she said.

From the inside of the house, you can see how the stained glass was placed. It was protected by two pains of clear glass and set in grooves chiseled into the wood. In her book, Butler lets the reader decide who may have stolen it, and where the window is today.

“The Chicago History Museum has it, but they’ve been quite evasive about showing us any evidence of that,” Butler said.

The price tag for the glass, according to Butler, is about $2.5 million.

Flight of the Soul: The disappearance of a priceless work of art will be available through Amazon on Monday for $20. You can also pre-order it for the Kindle. But the book isn’t the end of Dorothy Butler’s plan for George Renner’s stained glass window.

“I would like to bring it back to Youngstown, Ohio and make it a permanent part of our community for everyone to enjoy,” Butler said.

What makes the stained glass so valuable is that it was done by Ludwig Von Gerichten, an internationally famous stained-glass master. It was originally thought the window was made by Tiffany, but Butler says that story was fabricated to sell it for more money.

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