Saturday, November 21, 2009

Celtic Cross by Louis C. Tiffany Studio, Kinnelon's St. Hubert's Chapel

Louis C. Tiffany Celtic Cross, St. Hubert's Chapel

Kinnelon's Magnificent Celtic Cross In St. Hubert's Chapel; from Louis C. Tiffany Studio

If you've participated in one of Tom Kline's guided tours of St. Hubert's Chapel in Smoke Rise, NJ, you've definitely had the glorious opportunity to admire this gem of a stained glass window in the form of a Celtic Cross from the studio of Louis C. Tiffany.

If you haven't, then I share with you here a recent article from the 10/15/09 issue of Smoke Rise News that tells the tale of the Cross' repair and to which I include my photos of the cross.

Saving an Old Rugged Cross

Island Chapel Gets a Face Lift

One brilliant product of the prolific studio of Louis C. Tiffany and Associated Artists was a thick, rustic, stained-glass window in the form of a Celtic Cross that illuminates the tiny baptistery of an intimate chapel on a diminutive island in a small lake in Kinnelon, New Jersey. Tiffany artisans produced the window and other appointments within St. Hubert's Chapel for Francis S. Kinney, a millionaire director of the American Tobacco Company. Kinney erected the medieval-style chapel in the late 1800s and his family used it privately for more than fifty years.

But in 1957, a decade following the death of the last Kinney heir and the subsequent redevelopment of the Kinnelon estate into a community which we call Smoke Rise, five young vandals broke into the chapel, looted its contents, and destroyed much of what they could take.

Fortunately, the window survived with little damage. Today the picturesque building, still accessible only by boat, is watched over by the St. Hubert's Chapel Conservation Committee, a component of the nonprofit Kinnelon Heritage Conservation Society, and the Smoke Rise Security. With a security system now in place the chapel is almost totally restored.

St. Hubert Chapel's Celtic Stained Glass Window CrossIn late 1993, stained glass artisans from Rohlf's Studio in Mount Vernon, New York, removed the Celtic cross window and began its restoration. To correct from warping caused by the weight of the thick glass and the massive leading they divided the window into ten sections and inserted them into an unobtrusive steel frame to protect the window from vandalism and exposure to the elements, then double glazed the frame with plate glass. They reinstalled the window fitting it into a heavy new oak frame. The conservation may have come just in time. Experts feared that if the measures had not been taken soon the Tiffany treasure, which was valued in 1995 at more than $400,000, could have fallen out of its lead framework.

The chapel was rededicated and is open to the public on some occasions, a treasured possession of the Smoke Rise community.

More information on the Celtic Cross and St. Hubert's Chapel is available from the Historic Preservation magazine May/June 1995, or the Stained Glass magazine, Fall 1995. The origin of St. Hubert's Chapel is published by the Kinnelon Heritage Conservation Society.

[The photograph of the Celtic Cross included with this article appears in the Art Glass home page magazine 1995.]

I love stained glass. When I think that this glorious work of art exists in the midst of Kinnelon, I can't help but be reminded of how special this part of New Jersey is!

What do you think? And, what are some of your favorite stained glass windows?

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