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ESK installs stained glass

Students at The Episcopal School of Knoxville begin each morning with a chapel service.

Held in the Siler Great Room of the school’s new Middle School Building, the service is a time when children sit cross-legged on the floor for 15 minutes of songs, prayer, a Bible story and announcements.

With the addition of a new stained-glass window, the great room is now awash with color and light. As students sing songs such as “Do Lord,” “Make Me an Instrument” and “The First Song of Isaiah,” the morning light shines through the soaring window and creates pools of color on the stone floor.

The effect is at once magical, beautiful and peaceful.

The window, called “Gifts of the Holy Spirit,” is a gift of Dr. and Mrs. Paul Googe.

“Gifts of the Holy Spirit” was designed by Cindy Googe and fabricated by Willet Hauser Architectural Glass of Philadelphia, Pa.

Installed in July, the window awaited students when they arrived for school in August.

This medieval-era craftsmanship has assumed its own place in the routine of the school day. The rose (or circular) window spans nine feet and is composed of leaded antique glass in rich red, gold and blues.  It portrays a descending dove surrounded by eight flames, which represent the gifts of the Holy Spirit. 

“I think stained glass is an especially inspiring form of art,” Googe said. “The light’s interplay with glass is fascinating. Its beauty depends on refracted light.  Unlike a painting that we see when light is reflected from its surface, reflected light deadens stained glass. It’s only after light has passed through the glass and refracted that we see the colors.”

Amy Pulliam, research librarian with Willet Hauser Architectural Glass, said that the term antique refers to the method in which the glass is made rather than its actual age. This handmade, mouth blown glass is fabricated today using the same techniques that were used during the medieval period.

Crosby Willet, fabricator of the window, described it thusly:  “The central medallion depicts the Dove of the Holy Spirit, descending from Heaven. An elevated nimbus, traditionally reserved for one of the three persons of the Holy Trinity when depicted in art, surrounds its head.  Eight triangular segments of golden hued glass surround the outer edge of the central medallion, pulling the eye toward the eight flames of the Pentecost. Located above the Pentecostal symbols are the school’s name and below, its credo Faith, Knowledge and Culture.”

Willet and Googe were of one mind on the window’s enduring artistic value. Willet said the window has “a timeless quality that will not look dated to future students.”


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