Renew The Light

Save the Tiffany Ornamental Windows for the Next 100 Years

Overview

Background

Church of the Covenant has one of the largest collections of Tiffany stained glass in the world, with 20 figure windows that tell stories and 22 ornamental windows that decorate the clerestory or upper level. The ornamental windows in this spectacular National Historic Landmark are integral to the design of the largest extant Tiffany-designed ecclesiastical interior in the nation. They are in grave danger—with cracked and broken glass, severe bulging/deflection and advanced lead deterioration that pose a possible danger to visitors and must be completely restored. Their restoration is absolutely critical for us all, including for the more than 18,000 visitors a year who come to experience the beauty and peace of the space in our Open Sanctuary program.

What is the grant we have received?

National Fund for Sacred Places Grant

In 2020, we were one of 16 churches out of more than 150 applicants to receive a national  grant from The National Fund for Sacred Places (NFSP).  We are eligible to receive fundraising training and a $250,000 matching grant because we demonstrated both the pressing need to conserve the Tiffany ornamental windows in a nationally significant building and the essential role of the building as an hub for the larger community.

 

Unlike our wealthy church ancestors, we are not a wealthy congregation. With our recent award from the NFSP we are emboldened to launch this campaign. 

 

Our Campaign aims to:

Renew the Light: Save the Tiffany Ornamental Windows for the next 100 years

      • for their cultural significance, exemplifying Tiffany’s love of nature, color and beauty.
      • as a symbol of the Church’s deep commitment to Climate Care and Climate Justice.

Why are we targeting the Ornamental Windows?

In 2009, the Building Committee commissioned two assessments of the building—one for the building structure and one for the Tiffany windows. Each gave us a game plan for how to move forward to maintain our building for our mission. Following the master plan for the building structure, in 2019, we largely completed a multi-year fund-raising effort to repair/restore the exterior envelope of our building, although ongoing work will need to continue.

 

We turn now to the next phase of our master plan: restoration/ preservation of the Tiffany windows. In 2009, the stained-glass expert, Julie Sloan, provided a detailed assessment of the clerestory windows, describing their conditions as including broken glass, metal fatigue, accumulated soot, poor structural support with risk of disintegration that could potentially cause personal injury.  She strongly recommended their repair within 2 years.

Now, 12 years later, we are able to turn our focus to these windows. Many of you know that the Angel and Cornelius Window was removed from the church prior to COVID-19 and is being restored in the Serpentino Studios. The money for that window was raised from foundations and two donors. With the support of the National Fund for Sacred Places we have now begun a campaign to raise $750,000 to save the clerestory windows.

How much do we have to raise?

$550,000. $500,000 is needed to receive the $250,000 from NFSP. As a way to expand beyond the sanctuary’s current Eurocentric focus, Council approved a recommendation to raise an additional $50,000 (a tithe of 10% of each pledge) to support the creation of a piece of art for the sanctuary that encompasses a wider view of God’s children.  Details of this project will be determined at a later date.

Who else besides the congregation are we soliciting from?

We are reaching out to the huge diaspora of the congregation as well as foundations, individual donors from outside of the church, and the broader Boston community who cares about our mission and historic preservation.

Could we simply take these windows out and replace them with something less expensive?

No. The Back Bay Architectural Commission (BBAC) guidelines state: “Original window, material shall be retained whenever possible; if it is beyond repair, the existing openings, sash, glass, lintels, sills. shutter hardware, frames, surrounds, and all other details shall be duplicated in the same configuration, dimensions. style, and material as existing. Retention of original historic material such as curved, leaded, or stained glass is mandatory.”   Additionally, our Historic National Landmark status requires that we maintain the historic integrity of the interior of the sanctuary. We received this prestigious designation because of the integrity and unity of the Tiffany interior and the clerestory windows that are integral to the design. We need the Landmark status for funding in the future.

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