These windows are masterpieces of art and faith.
When Trinity Episcopal Church’s building opened on Willey Street in the early 1950s, contractor James Coombs said, “This is the most beautiful structure my company has ever built and one of the most beautiful anywhere.” Step through Trinity’s red doors and it’s hard to disagree.
The early English Gothic–style structure designed by Philip H. Frohman, resident architect at the Washington National Cathedral, inspires a hushed reverence. The whisper of shoes against stone evokes images of medieval churches towering over European streets.
But one feature takes your breath: the stained glass. Rain or shine, these windows animate the church’s interior. Reds and yellows dance across the pews as the sun rises. When thunderclouds loom, deep blues take center stage.
Several studios collaborated on the Windows to the Soul These windows are masterpieces of art and faith. designs, including the renowned Willet Stained Glass Studios of Philadelphia. Some of the glass is said to have come from West Virginia’s Blenko Glass Company. There, workers would have blown molten glass into tubular molds before reheating and flattening it into sheets. Later, intricate faces and garment folds were painted on. These pieces were fired to fuse the paint, which contained ground glass, with the glass.
More important than the windows’ artistry is their meaning. “Stained glass was the primary means of transmitting the gospel of Christ when people couldn’t read or write,” says priest-in-charge Rev. E.F. Michael Morgan. Even today, church buildings have their own ministries, he notes, preaching without words.
The most striking images bookend the church. Above the altar, Jesus sits enthroned in the Trinity Window. Opposite, a triumphant Christ watches over the baptismal font. It’s this Resurrection window that Morgan sees each Sunday as he gives the final blessing. Jesus’ hand is lifted as if he, too, is blessing all who will soon depart. “That window is striking,” agrees vestry member Ed Devine. “Even on a cloudy day, it shines just a little bit.”
Although the building was dedicated in 1953, Trinity celebrated its bicentennial as an Episcopal congregation in Morgantown this year. “Stained glass is important, but what’s really important are the people within the walls,” says senior warden Zachery Thayer.
Morgan invites anyone to enjoy the church’s windows at a Sunday morning service. Or, to arrange a viewing, contact the parish office (247 Willey Street, 304.292.7364, trinitymorgantown.org ).
Written and photographed by Jess Walker