Phase one of a stained glass windows restoration project has been completed at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in downtown Milford and now passersby can see them through clear laminated panes instead of the faded plastic that hid them for years.

“This type of protective glass is very strong,” said Junior Warden Conrad Green, who has headed the project for four years. “You could throw a brick at it, and although it would break it would not go through and damage the stained glass behind it.”

“The church now looks like an entirely different building,” he said. “When it was done, I said ‘wow.’”

The stained glass windows look especially impressive at night whenever lights are on inside the church, he added.

Five of the windows most needing repair, three dating from 1851 when the church was built, were removed in January and taken to Bovard Studios, Fairfield, Iowa, for re-leading or having lead frames replaced, and replacing broken glass. They were returned in late March and reinstalled along with all the protective glass panes in time for Easter, April 17.

The project has so far cost approximately $61,000, with funds raised by donors from inside and outside the church. The restoration work is expected to be effective for another 80 to 100 years.

For Phase Two, eight more stained glass windows are to be re-leaded for a cost of approximately $50,000, he said.

Green noted he wrote up specifications and started gathering price quotes from stained glass restoration companies four years ago, and five responded.

“It’s been a long process,” he said. “I never thought we’d get this done, but here we are.”

The Rev. Cynthia Knapp, former priest-in-charge, made the project one of her chief priorities while she served for three years, noting it would be a historical gift to the city. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Donations may be sent to: St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, 81 River Street, Milford, CT 06460. Write “stained glass windows” on the memo line.