The History Of Stained Glass In The United States


Stained Glass: As An American Artform

In regards to stained glass, the US was relatively late to the party.  This is because settlers from Europe got to this continent in the 1600s and stained was technically “invented” somewhere around 1000 AD.  However, this artform permeates the American church culture and is a common feature on many homes to this day.

The Beginning Of Stained Glass In The US

The first stained glass production was actually set up fairly soon after colonist arrived in Jamestown in 1607.  As it happened, England was running out of wood to fuel their furnaces that made stained glass at the time. Here in the Americas, there was plenty of wood, therefore, stained glass manufacturing became a new world trade.  Many workshops were built, one of the most famous of which was set up by Jan Smeedes, in 1679, in Lower Manhattan. Another was a studio by William Gibson, who was labeled the “Father of Painted Glass.” However, the Puritans did not like religious imagery like that on the Churches of England, so almost no glass is left from the colonial times.  Sadly, less than 1% of the Nation’s stained and leaded glass predates 1700.

The Golden Age of Stained Glass In The US

The Puritanical line of thinking did not last too long, however. In Europe, the 1700s saw massive demand for stained glass and is referred to as the golden age of stained glass in Europe.  Here in the states it did not take long for this trend to catch on and by the early 1800s intense interest in the craft arose again in and production began to increase steadily throughout the century–beginning the American golden age of stained glass.

 Some of the most historically significant stained glass from the US:

 John and William Jay Bolton: Glass made between 1843 and 1848, called St. Ann and the Holy Trinity.  

Louis Comfort Tiffany: Known for his designs of deeply colored works of glass in the style of Art Nouveau and his signature iridescent glass called Favrile.

Frank Lloyd Wright:  Was technically an architect but he pioneered geometric representations of natural motifs in stained glass and used of angled glass.

While the “great age of stained glass” is technically over, there are still numerous stained glass windows remaining all over the country to this day.  This country has a rich history of stained glass and that is what we here at Scottish Stained Glass in Denver work to preserve everyday. If you have an old or historic church or home stained glass window that you would like us to inspect for restoration, contact us today to schedule a consultation.

 
Our Stained Glass Mission: https://www.scottishstainedglass.com/religious-stained-glass/stained-glass-history-in-us/

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