| Even though the colonies
prospered, glass continued to be an expensive, hand-fabricated material
which was subject to European trade restrictions and was relatively hard
to come by. Consequently, for the first 200 years, neither churches
nor secular buildings in America featured ornamental glass.
RESIDENTIAL STAINED GLASS
It was the invention of the balloon-framing system
for construction and the mass production of building materials made possible
by the Industrial Revolution that brought about the explosion of architectural
styles in the middle and late nineteenth century known today as Victorian.
The Victorian Period (1837-1901) corresponds to the years that Queen Victoria
was on the English throne. In the United States, it was a time when
a wide variety of materials became available; new materials that could
be swiftly transported by a growing network of railroads. An amazing
selection of architectural features and decorative elements were available
for the ordering from popular pattern books. The new residential
architecture that emerged featured turrets, towers and windows in odd shapes
and asymmetrical placements. Fancy glass was a part of this creative
surge. Such artistic expression quickly caught the imagination of a nation
that prided itself on
individuality and innovation.
ABOUT THE EXHIBIT
The exhibit is located in two areas of the Mogan
Cultural Center - the Immigrants' Experience of the Working People's Exhibit
and the University of Lowell Center for Lowell History. Within the
People's Exhibit is a history of architectural decorative glass from
its European traditions to its purely American residential stylistic examples.
Various types of glass are on display, along with the tools of the craft.
An actual window demonstrates the steps required to create stained glass,
from design idea to completion, using the various types of glass: flashed,
etched, sand-blasted, jeweled, and beveled. Photographs of some Lowell
homes and a sampling of fancy glass found from the Acre to the Tyler Park
National Historic District demonstrate both street treats and hidden treasures.
The exhibit in the University of Lowell Center for Lowell History
is focused on glass in Lowell. At the peak of the Victorian era fancy
glass was produced by studios all over America. Although names like
Tiffany and LaFarge are well-known today in association with the production
of stained glass,