Albion churches are showcases of stained-glass masterpieces
ALBION – They drove through a storm to see works of art by famed masters of the craft.
Anne and Ed Engel of Oakfield weren’t disappointed on Saturday with the first ever stained-glass window tour of Albion’s seven churches in the historic Courthouse Square.
The Pullman Memorial Universalist Church has more than 40 windows created by Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company, perhaps the most esteemed stained glass artist.
One of the windows of Christ the Consoler shows Jesus with his outstretched arms. George Pullman paid $5,000 for that window, which was installed in January 1895.
Tiffany highlighted that window as example of the firm’s work in an 1898 brochure.
Engel gazed at the glass, and ran her finger along the bottom of the window.
“I touched a Tiffany stained-glass window,” she said, breaking into a smile.
Tiffany revolutionized the stained-glass world. Stained-glass windows, prior to Tiffany, tended to have clear glass with a stencil pattern painted on the glass.
Tiffany developed opalescent glass, putting color directly in glass. His windows became very popular in the 1890s. His windows at the Pullman church were installed in 1895.
Other stained-glass artists turned to opalescent glass, and many churches, including several in Albion, swapped out their older, plainer windows with Tiffany-style windows, Lattin said on the tour. (Lattin wrote a book about Orleans County’s stained-glass windows: Luminaries in the Firmament.)
The windows in the seven churches range in age from the 1860s to the 1960s. Many of the masters of the craft, both at the regional and national level, created windows for churches in Albion.
Lattin said Albion is blessed to have so many exquisite examples of stained glass.
“There is really some extraordinary artwork here,” Lattin said after leading the tour. “There is really something here that can be marketed.”
Saturday’s tour drew about 40 participants on a bitterly cold morning. Tony and Cathy Mancuso of Elba have driven through Albion for years. They have long admired the churches, and wondered what they were like inside.
They took lots of pictures of the windows, the pipe organs and architectural features. Mr. Mancuso works in the real estate business.
“This place is absolutely gorgeous,” Mancuso said while on a tour of the First Presbyterian Church. “I love the woodwork in here.”
Connie Mosher is a long-time local resident and an artist. She praised Lattin for his recall of the dates of the windows, who made them, and the stories behind them often as memorials for local residents. Lattin led the nearly two-hour tour without notes.
Mosher said the tour was an eye-opener and made her admire the community’s residents from a century ago even more. The seven churches showcase a variety of architectural features. The buildings are all listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The churches have added meaning after learning about their windows, Mosher said.
“What a heritage we have,” she said. “Until you get inside, you don’t realize the richness of it.”