Stained Glass Windows of St. Paul's Episcoal Church

by George L. Grice, Jr.

St. Paul's Vestry

Many records of St Paul’s Episcopal Church, the oldest Episcopal Church in Montana, are not supported by original documents because the church’s archives have been destroyed on two occasions. This lack of available records had caused uncertainty and even some incorrect assumptions about the source of the church’s stained glass.

In the fall of 2009, the Church’s current Vicar, the Rev. Todd Young, was contacted by Gary M. Gray, Ed. D. who offered to visit the church and authenticate the source of the windows. Dr. Gray is a recognized authority and author of two books on the subject “God’s Story through God’s Light,” and “Stained Glass Appraisal Guide.”

After several days’ examination, Dr. Gray and an associate presented their findings to Fr. Young and Mr. George Grice, a member of St. Paul’s Vestry. They presented pictorial evidence of the similarities of St. Paul’s windows to known examples of certain glassmakers’ work, such as that of Franz Mayer, F.X. Zettler, and artists of Munich Studios of Chicago. Both Mayer and Zettler are known to have worked at times for Munich Studios of Chicago. These artists have examples of their work in St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Cheyenne, WY, in St. Helena’s Cathedral, Helena, MT, and in Holy Rosary Parish, Bozeman, MT.

Mary B. Elling, wife of Henry Elling, gave funds for a new St. Paul’s building and oversaw the procurement of its furnishings in memory of her husband. She would have knowledge of these stained glass artists working in reasonable proximity to Virginia City when she was looking for a source for the church windows at St. Paul’s. The works referenced were in the same time frame as the St. Paul’s work.

Dr. Gray concluded that the large windows over the altar and at the end of the nave are the works of Munich Studios, Chicago. In addition, the two angels on either side of the sanctuary, as well as, the window above the main door, are also done by Munich Studios. Dr. Grays’ findings have provided the church and its member’s new information about the history of these splendid windows, and more accurate awareness of their considerable value.

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