A tour of Richmond's Tiffany stained glass windows

By Matt Boyce - bio | email
Posted by Phil Riggan - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -  Believe it or not, Richmond is home to an extensive collection of Tiffany stained glass windows --and it's not all at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

So, how did Louis Comfort Tiffany "etch" his name into Richmond's history?  NBC12 went on a Tiffany About Town tour to find out.

The four Tiffany windows at St. James Episcopal Church had a scare in the 1990s when the sanctuary burned to the ground. The roof collapsed allowing the heat to escape, fortunately saving all of the art.

"The windows were then shipped to Long Island, to the Cushion Studio, for restoration and came back beautifully restored," said Betty Molster of St. James Episcopal Church.

There are 15 public buildings around the Richmond area displaying Tiffany glass windows. The Valentine Richmond History Center even does a yearly Tiffany bus tour.

"Lewis Ginter had Tiffany commissioned to do three windows in his mausoleum. So, it's the only mausoleum in Hollywood Cemetery that has Tiffany windows in it," said Melissa Sleeth, a historic Tiffany bus tour guide.

Louis Tiffany patented his unique "favrel" style of stained glass in 1894. Not long after that his work started gracing the windows of Richmond's many places of worship.

"Churches especially were kind of clamoring to have a better window than another church. So well, if they had a Tiffany that would be great," Sleeth said.

The Congregation Beth Ahabah has a Tiffany, comissioned by a prominent Richmond family as a memorial.

"Tiffany colors are very hard to match, very hard to imitate. Tiffany used many layers of thin glass of different colors one on top of the other. The light shining through them gave him the final color that he wanted," said David Farris, Executive Director of Beth Ahabah Museum.

St. Paul's Church boasts 10 Tiffany windows and an alter piece that lets you see how Tiffany's style developed through the years.

"He was really the only one of his era, and I dare say since, that has really been able to capture images that are so vibrant and so real and emotionally moving on the canvas of a glass," Sleeth said.

If your interested in taking your own "Tiffany About Town" tour, see this list of all 15 sites around the area that have Tiffany stained glass pieces.

Tiffany glass windows in the Richmond area (date building was contructed):
St. James Episcopal Church, 1838 - 4 windows
St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 1845 - 10 windows, 1 altar mosaic
Beth Ahabah Synagogue, 1841 - 1 window
Hollywood Cemetery, 1848 - Lewis Ginter Mausoleum, 1897 - 3 windows, 1 lead door with glass plates
Grace & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, 1874 - 1 window
Second Presbyterian Church, 1845 - 1 window, 2 bronze tablets
Ginter Park Baptist Church, 1868 - 8 windows and 3 partial windows
All Saints Episcopal Church - Grouping of small windows, all part of one original Tiffany
Maymont House, 1890 - 1 window
Jefferson Hotel, 1895 - 1 skylight (proabable)
Centenary United Methodist Church, 1843 - 1 baptismal font, 1 possible window
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Bloomendaal House, 1905 - 1 skylight (probable)
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts - 1 3-panel window, punch bowl, lamps

Petersburg area:
Blandford Church, 1735 - 15 windows
Washington Street United Methodist Church - 5 windows

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