Windows in Alexandria

Alexandria Travel Blog

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Aspinwall Hall (1859), Virginia Theological Seminary

In June, Susan and I had seen the Tiffany decorative arts exhibit at the Virginia Musuem of Fine Arts (see earlier blog entrry). Along with the exhibit we'd seen spectacular examples of Tiffany stained glass windows at Maymont at St. Paul's Church. To assist exhibit-goers find more Tiffany installations, VMFA had put a Tiffany Driving Tour of Virginia on its web site. Two of those wer not far away: the Arlington Arts Center and the Virginia Theological Seminary chapel. My appetite had been whetted for more Tiffany photography. I decided on this Sunday, I'd try to seek out the Tiffany window at Virginia Thelogical Seminary (VTS) in Alexandria.

It was a short srive up I-395 from Springfield, and then an exit at Seminary Road.

Immanuel Chapel, Virginia Theological Seminary
VTS is a seminary of the Episcopal Church founded in 1823. I pulled in to the main entrance and Visitor Center off of Seminary Road. The seminary was in intersession, and no one was around the campus. The Visitor Center was closed. But, I checked the campus map to check on the location of the chapel and thought I'd try it. There had to have been a  Sunday morning service and perhaps someone was at the chapel still. First, I took a photo of Aspinwall Hall, the main academic building. The afternoon was sunny and the campus green. Then I took photos of the exterior of the 1881 chapel. Immanuel Chapel is a gothic looking brick structure, like a church one might find in an English village. I tried the door. Like St. Paul in Richmond, it was open.
Immanuel Chapel, Virginia Theological Seminary
I went in. No one. I had the place to myself!

I found the Tiffany widow, a triptych installed in the left transcept. The subject is Paul Before Herod (Paul making his case before Herod Agrippa and Queen Bernice). This window was installed in 1928, but the subject is the same as one of the windows at St. Paul's, that one installed in 1898. They are very similar and it is interesting to compare them. Both show they Tiffany style of layered glass for the three-dimensional effect, drapery glass for the robes, and confetti glass for the foliage. One difference is in the figure of Festus, standing to the right of Herod Agrippa. In Richmond, his robes are a translucent white or cream. In Alexandria they are an azure blue. This is opalescent glass, the driving tour notes tell us.

Chapel interior

Over the chapel's altar is another large stained glass window, but not a Tiffany. The Ascension Window depicts Jesus and the Disciples, but I was not able to find out the artist. [Mayer & Co. of Munich I later discovered. Dedicated in 1907.] Beautiful and done in some of the same style of figurative painting, it is neverthess flat and icon-looking. [I must sadly report that Immanuel Chapel burned in a fire on October 22, 2010. Both of the stained glass windows were lost.]

On my way along Seminary Road, I'd noticed signs for the Fort Ward historical site nearby. You know what's next. From VTS, I drove over to Fort Ward Park. Fort Ward was one of the ring of earthwork forts built during the Civil War to pretect Washington, DC, from Confederate attack. (Alexandria was occupied by Union troops during the Civil War. One encampment was on the grounds of VTS.)  I'll tell the story of the Fort Ward site in my review below.  I arrived in plenty of time to see the museum and walk the preserved grounds on a sunny and warm late August afternoon. The site is in a 45 acre city park now, and other visitors were there to jog and picnic. A pleasant day of local exploration!

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Aspinwall Hall (1859), Virginia Th…
Aspinwall Hall (1859), Virginia T…
Immanuel Chapel, Virginia Theologi…
Immanuel Chapel, Virginia Theolog…
Immanuel Chapel, Virginia Theologi…
Immanuel Chapel, Virginia Theolog…
Chapel interior
Chapel interior
Tiffany triptych
Tiffany triptych
Paul Before Herod, Tiffany stained…
Paul Before Herod, Tiffany staine…
Altar stained glass window
Altar stained glass window
Fort Ward Park
Fort Ward Park
Earthworks at Fort Ward Park
Earthworks at Fort Ward Park
Alexandria Sights & Attractions review
Fort Ward and the Civil War Defenses of Washington
Fort Ward in Alexandria, Virginia, was one of a series of Union earthwork fortifications constructed around the perimiter of Washington, DC, during th… read entire review
Alexandria
photo by: missandrea81