Why Are There So Many Stained Glass Window Artisans in Kansas City?Martin Faith
Have you ever wondered why there are so many buildings in Kansas City with stained glass? Some of the homes and churches here have become extremely popular tourist attractions due to the immense beauty and intricacy of their windows. But what brought all these artists to Kansas City in the first place? Well, there’s really no straightforward answer to this question. Rather, it requires a thoughtful examination of the artistic culture of the city.
Let’s start with some of the oldest stained glass windows in Kansas City. During the period of 1878-1933, there were many types and styles of glass produced by the Tiffany Studios in New York. This company was led by the famous designer Louis Comfort Tiffany. Some of their windows were installed in two churches erected in the late 1850’s in the Kansas City area, St. Mary’s Episcopal Church and Grace Episcopal Church.
Photo credit: Inspired Glass
In 1882, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception was built in Kansas City. When the church opened for its first services, the walls were not even plastered and temporary windows were installed in a hurry. Twenty years later, it became the site of some of the most beautiful stained religious stained glass in the world. Local artists at the Kansas City Stained Glass Works Company built these beautiful windows.
Photo credit: stainedglass.org
Throughout the 1930’s, there was an increase in the creation of Victorian, prairie, and Queen Anne styled windows in Kansas City. Many of these windows feature striking and unique abstract designs and were installed in chapels, houses, libraries, schools, and many other buildings. However, several of these artists remain anonymous even today.
Photo credit: stainedglass.org
Last but not least is one of the most famous architects that influenced the Kansas City art culture, Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959). Frank Lloyd Wright designed over 1,100 architectural structures throughout his lifetime. 500 of these designs were actually built and seven of them are in the Kansas City area. Many avid fans of Frank Lloyd Wright visit Kansas City just to view the beautiful architecture and stained glass created by this incredibly famous and talented artist. Needless to say, the prairie style stained glass trend came on quickly in Kansas City and is still very popular today.
Photo credit: Prairie style stained glass similar to FLW works by Scottish
Today, Kansas City is home to two iconic stained glass institutions. The first of these is the Stained Glass Association of America. Every year this association hosts a stained glass conference during which hundreds of artists gather from around the country. The second is the Stained Glass School created by the SGAA. This school offers educational classes to those who are interested in learning about the craft of stained glass.
The history of stained glass has been well-established in Kansas City for well over one hundred years. Many famous and talented stained glass artists have greatly influenced the culture of the city. Perhaps it is their spirit and passion that is perpetuated even today by many of the stained glass artisans that currently reside in Kansas City.