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Made In Chicago: Drehobl Stained Glass

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Drehobl Art Glass

(Credit: Drehobl Art Glass)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Ninety-two years after its founding, Drehobl stained glass is still made in Chicago.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports, Chris Drehobl the senior partner in his company, and the third generation of his family in the business, which was founded in 1919. He is also an artist who works in glass.

“We still do everything the Old World way, pretty much – hands-on craftsmanship,” Drehobl said.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports

Drehobl and business partner Rick Purro have worked together for 22 years, but knew each other before that for a totally different reason.

“We both play drums,” Purro said.

Drummers who do something so delicate?

“You have to be just as precise, and concentrate,” he said.

Over the decades, Drehobl Art Glass has furnished 19 windows for the Anshe Emet Synagogue, 3751 N. Broadway. Its craftsmen have also restored windows in the DePaul University Library that had sat in crates for 30 years.

When WBBM Newsradio visited, Purro was constructing windows, based on windows in the Vatican, for a Catholic deacon.

But not all of the work is for churches and synagogues. Much of the work involves front doors and transoms, about half old and half new.

Purro says there is no rule of thumb for how long a stained glass window will last:

“A lot of it depends on what direction it faces,” he said. “Windows with a southern exposure take a beating.”

That, of course, is because of the sun. Elsewhere in a building, the windows can last 80 to 100 years.

Many of the windows Drehobl restores are far older than that, and sometimes the replacement glass is just as old, stored in the shop in sheets.

Drehobl and Purro say business is good. They recently took on another artisan part-time.

Drehobl Art Glass has outlasted most of the businesses that specialized in stained glass in Chicago, and now they’re the caretakers of that art. You can find them at 5108 W. Irving Park Rd. in the Portage Park neighborhood.

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