Category: Stained Glass

  • The Tallest Stained-Glass Windows in the World

    Stained glass in Heinz Chapel

    That is the claim made for the transept windows in Heinz Chapel, and old Pa Pitt accepts it until someone proves otherwise. They were created by the studio of Charles Z. Connick.

    The windows trace Christian history down from Christ to American heroes like Abraham Lincoln, shown here freeing slaves with his Emancipation Proclamation.

    Father Pitt’s very favorite detail in these windows is in the Lincoln pane. In fact it is one of his favorite details in any stained glass anywhere. You probably won’t even notice it as you look at the heroic figure of Lincoln, but here it is:

    This scowling cartoon-villain plantation owner, furious that some Northern abolitionist scum has the temerity to interfere with his right to whip his own property, is the perfect background for Lincoln. One feels that the whole Civil War was worth the trouble just to make this man frown.

  • Stained Glass in the Grierson Mausoleum, Allegheny Cemetery

  • Stained Glass in the Shields Mausoleum, Homewood Cemetery


    Mr. Shields decided to take his favorite pinup girl with him to the grave. A stout wooden beam apparently holding up the ceiling of the mausoleum stands in the way of the view of this window; Father Pitt has therefore stitched this picture together from two separate pictures, and the seam is obvious. But the window is unusual enough that we can tolerate a substandard photograph.


  • Stained Glass in the Wittmer Mausoleum, Allegheny Cemetery


    A fine piece of glass, though the symbolism may be a bit muddled. The parting of the clouds and the heavenly radiance suggest that the dove represents the Holy Spirit; the leaf in its beak suggests Noah’s dove (Genesis 8:10-11).


  • McCune Mausoleum, Allegheny Cemetery


    This extraordinarily tasteful Renaissance octagon (built in 1925) is so unusual that Father Pitt suspects it may be based on a historical model. He would be delighted if one of his readers could find the original and point it out to him. John Robison McCune III was a banker, head of one of the biggest banks in the city (Union National, which after being devoured by Integra and National City is now part of PNC).



    The interior is as elegant as the exterior. McCune took nothing of his private life with him to the grave—no Masonic or even religious symbols. His mausoleum, including the exceptionally fine window, is dedicated solely to beauty.


  • Stained Glass in the Union Dale Cemetery

    Stained glass with chalice

    This gorgeous Pre-Raphaelite window is at the back of the George J. Schmitt mausoleum in the Union Dale Cemetery, where the rich and influential of Allegheny City went to slumber in eternal style. Its Grail imagery seems to combine two forms of the Grail legend (the Grail as cup of the Last Supper and the grail as mystical jewel). The legend below reads, “Unto thee O Lord do I lift up my soul.”

    Anyone worth knowing in the Union Dale cemetery has stained glass in his mausoleum. In fact, for a while in the early 1900s, it was fashionable to have a portrait of the deceased rendered in glass.

    William H. Walker in stained glass

    Here, for example, is Mr. William H. Walker (1841-1904), who was apparently a proud Shriner. His portrait has deteriorated a little, but not so much that you would not recognize him at once if you met him in the street.

    William H. Teets

    Mr. William H.Teets (1845-1906; perhaps stained-glass portraits were offered only to men named William H.) has also deteriorated a little, but the portrait is still lifelike enough that you can almost feel the macassar oil.

    Stained glass with cherubs

    Cherubs and lilies adorn the mausoleum of the McLain family. The cherubs’ faces seem to be executed with a degree of skill that the rest of the composition lacks; perhaps they were ordered from a catalogue.

    Stained glass with crown

    The Enlow-Schwer mausoleum, built in the late 1930s, affects a more abstract symbolism.

    Good Shepherd

    Finally, a Good Shepherd window, which could probably be ordered in standard sizes from national dealers, adorns the Short mausoleum.

    There are some who would question the wisdom, or the taste, of building an extravagant monument to the memory of the deceased. Father Pitt would like to suggest, however, that money laid out on art that is still giving us pleasure after a century is hardly misspent.

  • Stained Glass in Beechview

    The Good Shepherd window at the rear of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church on Beechview Avenue, Beechview. The church building is a century old this year.

  • Lilies

    Easter lilies, symbolic of the resurrection, rendered in stained glass at the rear of a mausoleum in the Allegheny Cemetery.
  • Falling Up



    Looking up into the rotunda of the Union Trust Building gives one the uncanny sensation of falling up into the vortex.

  • Sunset or Sunrise?


    Stained glass from a mausoleum in Allegheny Cemetery. Is it a sunset or a sunrise? That depends, perhaps, on what we think of death.