The history of Kansas City’s Stained Glass Industry
Spring has finally sprung, and with the warm weather and sun comes an influx of tourists interested in the historical buildings spread throughout Kansas City. Stained glass art is often a distinctive feature of such buildings.
Kansas City is Home to Countless Works of Stained Glass
In a past article, we talked about two of the most popular styles common in Kansas City – the immaculately ornate religious facades designed by Tiffany Studios, lead by Louis Comfort Tiffany, and the geometric, minimalist Prairie Style stained glass fashioned by Frank Lloyd Wright. It’s no wonder people come to visit Kansas City and do tours of the architecture. Some of the best features are to see the incredible and valuable works of stained glass artistry. Seven of Wright’s beautiful architectural structures are located in the Kansas-Missouri area, and Kansas City is home to many stained glass beauties hiding in local cathedrals and churches. However, many of these works of art were in fact, crafted by local artisans who largely go unknown today.
Why are Glasswork Artisans of the Past Unknown?
While Tiffany Studios and Frank Lloyd Wright are household names (and rightfully so), it was not always these design leaders who created the individual pieces of work. In Europe, artisan work was produced in a guild system where craftsmen would not sign the work they produced, but the master of the guild would instead. This practice continued on as people migrated to the United States, leaving the creators a mystery to us today.
Unknown Artisans of the Past Brought to Light
Bruce Mathews is a talented photographer and writer who published his collection of stained glass artwork around this fair city in his book titled Windows of Kansas City. Thanks to his beautiful photography work and exhaustive research, stained glass aficionados can appreciate snippets of history.
One such example is Charles J. Andrews, who styled and created dozens of pieces from the 1890’s to 1954. Another is Herman J. Schladermundt, who Mathews found to be the one who produced the Glory of Missouri in Peace windows that can be seen in the state capitol House of Chambers in Jefferson City. It is unfortunate that these artisans and numerous others are not more known throughout the city they are displayed in, but it is quite easy to see why one’s eyes are inevitably drawn to these wondrous, colorful panes of art.
Read the PDF below for more information on stained glass in Kansas City: