A Window Into Our Past

The following article was submitted by Jeff Fellows, Building & Grounds Manager at Trinity Memorial Episcopal Church, Binghamton:

For many years Trinity Memorial Church, Binghamton thought that one of their stained glass windows, like many of the others was made by Wippel/Mowbray, in Exeter, England. In April, we had Chapman Studios from Albany, NY, evaluate the condition of our windows and they found a little white monk in the bottom corner of a particular window. We thought how cute that the artist incorporated this little monk in the window. In May, we had a gentleman, Robert Fertitta, a wonderful photographer / Organist, from Woodbury, CT, asked to photograph all of Trinity’s windows. He has taken photos of windows from 100’s of Episcopal churches in the north east. As we pointed out the cute little white monk to him, he told us that this was a signature of the Whitefriar Glass Studios, London, England. After looking this up on the internet, we realized that the history of this one window took a huge turn.

In early July The Corning Glass Museum, Rakow Research Library called Trinity. We were told that the Rakow Library was gifted thousands of cartoons (original sketches) of Whitefriar windows from the company back in 2015. The Library is restoring and documenting these cartoons. It just so happened that they were working on the cartoon of Trinity’s Martha and Mary window. A visit to the library was arranged and we were able to see the original cartoon in person. A tour of the library revealed almost 1,800 rolls of Whitefriar cartoons consisting of 20 – 30 cartoons in each roll. This makes it all the more coincidental that they are working on our Martha and Mary right now. On August 1st, the restoration team, and library officials will be visiting Trinity to see this window in person. The glass color and finished product will bring the sketch to life for them. They will also visit Binghamton’s United Presbyterian Church to view two very important mosaics commissioned by Tiffany for the church.

In June of this year, Trinity again participated in the Sacred Sites tours offered state wide, and their focus included their stained glass windows. This year, Trinity presented a challenge to the visitors, to find the Whitefriar, which caused all our visitors to really look at the windows more closely.

Take the opportunity to research the history of your windows. If you have any Whitefriar windows, the Rakow Research Library would like to hear from you.

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