Theater stained glass window info

posted by mizzllat on December 11, 2008 at 7:45 am

I am in the process of tracing the provenance on a magnificent antique stained glass window, dating to the late 19th or early 20th Century. The window, showing Archangel Michael presenting his sword, appears quite liturgical, yet I am told by its current owner that it was originally displayed in a Chicago area theater, one that was demolished sometime in the 1980s or 90s.

Sadly, at this point in time, I do not even know in which genre of theater it may have been placed. If anyone has any ideas at all, I would be very appreciative to hear of them. A list of those theaters demolished around that time could prove more than just a little bit helpful, if you happen to have access to something like that and would not mind sharing it with me for my research.

Comments (11)

CSWalczak on December 11, 2008 at 2:25 pm

Perhaps it came from a church or some other areligious building that was later converted to a theater.You might want to contact the the Theatre Historical Society of America about this:

Theatre Historical Society of America
York Theatre Building
152 N. York Street, 2nd floor
Elmhurst, IL 60126-2806
Ph. (630) 782-1800
Fax (630) 782-1802

They do charge for their research services.

There was an Angelus Theater on 51st Street in Chicago; it’s long gone but it has an entry here on CT.

Broan on December 11, 2008 at 9:05 pm

There’s a museum of stained glass in chicago that you might also try.

CSWalczak on December 11, 2008 at 9:56 pm

Here’s another thought: I kept trying to remember where I had seen something similar, and finally realized that that I was thinking of the archangel stained glass windows in the apse at Our Lady of Mr. Carmel church on Belmont Avenue in Chicago. These were executed by the John J. Kinsella Company which was operating in the early part of the previous century; they made many stained and art glass windows. I can’t find anything much about the company on the net, but the stained glass museum (Smith Museum of Stained Glass) referred to by BWChicago is at Navy Pier, and there staff may indeed know something that might help you.

There are pictures of the Mt. Carmel windows at:
View link

and church staff may also know something helpful to you.

I also think that the theater in which which this was originally displayed could quite possibly have been for live theater, and was once a former church. A possibility would be to talk to staff at the Chicago Historical Society; their website is:

They could probably identfy experts on the history of Chicago legitimate theaters and troupes who might have converted former church facilities as their venues. This is not an uncommon use for former churches, just as some former theaters have become church buildings.

mizzllat on December 11, 2008 at 10:02 pm

Oddly enough, the Smith Museum of Stained Glass does not have their own website, so I never really bothered to look too closely at them. After your suggestion, I did a quick search to see if anyone had posted any photos of the windows in the museum online, and found a few that have an oddly similar feel to them, especially the views where it shows light shining through from the back of the glass. (This is not shown in the photo posted above, of the window I am tracing. When light shines through from its reverse side, it takes on a very different appearance, becoming soft and much more ethereal than it now appears, when it is lit solely from the front.)

CSWalczak on December 11, 2008 at 10:12 pm

I should have added in that regard that you might also want to contact the the League of Chicago Theatres – 228 S. Wabash, Suite #200 Chicago, IL 60604 312-554-9800.

They are a trade association that represents many theatre groups in Chicago. It would not surprise me if they have a Chicago theater history buff either on their staff or about whom they are aware who might know of theatre companies that once called a former church building a home.

mizzllat on December 11, 2008 at 10:38 pm

Thank you CWalczak, I cannot tell you just how much I appreciate your response. I am usually a very good researcher, but this is not my area at all. (If I can ever help you with the identification of painted art, please do not hesitate to email and ask.) I do not remember the last time I had quite so much fun, though. If you’d be interested in seeing my client’s window as it appears when light is shining through rather than upon its surface, email me through my profile, and I’ll be glad to send you a few views. I’d certainly welcome any additional thoughts you might have.

Things are slowing getting exciting with the research, as I think I am getting closer and closer to showing that the window, if not by Tiffany, has to be by one of his most gifted artisans. I’ve felt from the beginning, what with all the rich use of robe and feather glass, that it had to be a product of one of the true greats of the art. I feel it even more strongly now. I was lucky enough to have one of the country’s leading restoration, recovery, and renovation specialists be willing to look at my photos earlier in the week, and to give me his honest thoughts. At first, he honestly thought it might be a modern reproduction (he said “I was sure it was a fake”), as he said he has rarely, if ever, seen such a wealth of robe glass used in one of these smaller pieces (it is just under 7 feet in height). As he was the person hired to do the restoration work on the two most premier windows Tiffany ever built, I knew I was going to live or die by what he had to say. After showing it to be an antique piece, he has now become so enamored of the window, he has offered to help sell it when I finally reach that point of the process.

Like I said, “Fun!”

CSWalczak on December 11, 2008 at 11:01 pm

Thanks, Linda T. I certainly am no expert, but I too think this looks like a Tiffany window, especially that feather glass. What little I found about the Kinsella Company suggested that they regarded themselves as competitors to Tiffany. Good luck in your research. Perhaps you might post your findings when you determine who made it, and where it was originally was displayed.

CSWalczak on December 12, 2008 at 2:02 pm

Linda: I just discovered that the museum on the campus of Michigan State University also has a project focusing on stained glass. Although it focuses on stained glass in Michigan, the related web pages reveal that staff there know a great deal about artisans and manufacturers from around the country. Information here:
View link

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on December 21, 2008 at 4:00 pm

Linda…I like stained glass and this bugs me because I feel like I’ve seen this or something like it before and seems like it had to do with a movie theater. If you ever find anything out, please let us know. Thanks

Manteno, IL (50 miles south of Chicago)

Emeraldlorraine on July 11, 2009 at 3:15 pm

The first thought that came to my head when I saw it was Maxfield Parrish. Don’t ask me why, but it did.

GlassPainter on March 31, 2012 at 4:45 am


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