Penn-Wyatt House Stained-Glass Window 5
Image by Universal Pops (David)
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[See the set of 22 photos of the house and its details www.flickr.com/photos/universalpops/sets/72157632481543757/ ]
This set of 5 photos shows some of the stained-glass windows of the Penn-Wyatt House (1876) in Danville, Virginia. Residential, or secular stained-glass, had become relatively common in the last quarter of the 19th century as a way to beautify one’s space, to make an architectural statement, and possibly to fall in with a decorative fad or style. Charles Eastlake (1836-1906), influential in architectural embellishment, felt the use of stained-glass was an appropriate decoration for a household; it was in “good taste”. The glaziers’ world now included the ecclesiastical and the secular. Decorative arts in an architectural setting demanded fine art from skilled and imaginative craftsmen, often using floral or abstract designs on a geometrical background (photo 4 is a good example of this). Inside the house, the light through the window would create a different aspect of color and mood; furthermore, windows were placed where no view to the outside was intended. The use of decorative windows became so commonplace that mail order hardware companies offered them among their products at prices within reach of many. This democratization of stained-glass accessibility tended to water down the artistry. In the 20th century, two wars and the Depression devastated the business with the final blow delivered by “modern architecture”, which greatly deemphasized any ornamentation. I don’t know anything about these windows, if they were artisan or assembly-line in origin or when they were installed. The house did undergo modifications from 1897-1903. I was unable to view the interior of the Penn-Wyatt House except as seen through windows; but I’ll remember looking through a glass door and seeing, as if I were inside, how a window diffused the light and colors, a sight of wonder and beauty. Images 2 and 3 are excellent examples of window moldings. The Penn-Wyatt House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places September 7, 1979, ID reference #79003317. [The description is a synthesis of numerous sources.]
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